Baltimore Pride 2013

The tailgating party in the parking lot behind Eddie's in Mount Vernon during Baltimore Pride in 2013 was packed. (Sun Photo by Kevin Rector / June 15, 2013)

Anyone who's been to Baltimore Pride -- or any Pride, really -- knows there is a lot to see.

It takes a lot to make me raise my eyebrows, but I did on several occassions during the parade and block party in Mount Vernon on Saturday -- mostly with a smile.

How boring would it be if that wasn't the case at the state's largest gay party?

But beyond the shocking, and beyond the funny, a few broader themes also stood out.

Here's Baltimore Pride in a blender: a quick mix of insights from a rowdy day of celebration, political posturing and hometown charm.

1. Tailgating is king

People boozing in parking lots around the periphery of the block party has been an issue for some in the past, but it was clear Saturday that their complaints hadn't stopped the practice.

The parking lot behind Eddie's was at times the most rowdy part of the party. There was no bar there but alcohol was close at hand. Red cups were everywhere. There was a DJ. There was not anyone checking people's ages. There were children.

People were drinking straight from coolers in plenty of other parking lots, too.

Police officers casually walked in and out of the lots. People seemed to be getting along, but some were definitely drunk. There was puking.

2. Everything is politics.

You don't get into politics by giving up prime time opportunities to put out political messaging, and Baltimore Pride had its fair share.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was the grand marshal. Attorney General Douglas Gansler rode in the parade throwing handfuls of candy to the crowd, in the midst of signs that said "Gansler for Governor."

Del. Heather Mizeur, a lesbian from Montgomery County who's also considering a run for governor but hasn't announced her candidacy, got in as many handshakes as she could muster.

Occupy Baltimore made an appearance. One group held signs arguing for the release of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst being prosecuted for leaking classified military documents.

And of course, people claiming a big victory on gay marriage in Maryland couldn't help but wave around their Question 6 signs.

3. Baltimore is Baltimore

Charm City is a gritty, diverse mix of people with a culture all their own. It has its issues but it also has huge heart.

Baltimore Pride comes off the same way.

There were people at Pride from all over the state. I talked to some of them. But the party still had a very Baltimore vibe. The Baltimore accent was heavy in the crowd. People streamed into the neighborhood on foot.

Baltimore showed up for Baltimore Pride, and the state's biggest gay party owes its character to that.