Before the park revelry began on Saturday and even before the Kickoff Party at the Georgia Aquarium got into full swing, Atlanta Pride welcomed sponsors, grand marshals and specials guests to its annual VIP reception.

One of the Aquarium’s swanky party rooms was reserved early on Friday evening for a more private affair before the 4,000-strong official kickoff. Pride’s managing director Buck Cooke and board chair Glen Paul Freedman welcomed the VIPs, and board member Jamie Fergerson passed out trophies honoring the 2012 Pride parade’s six individual and two group grand marshals plus two honorary grand marshals (top photo).

Honorary Grand Marshals Ben Cohen and Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk addressed the crowd, and so did U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Atlanta Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Other gay and gay-friendly polticians in attendance included Atlanta City Council members Alex Wan, Carla Smith and Michael Julian Bond, as well as former City Council President Lisa Boders.

Photos by Sher Pruitt

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