PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- This year, Portland's Pride celebration expanded with ten days of events ending with the annual parade and festival.

In January, a group of Portland residents got together to talk about how they could make this year's Pride bigger and better. Since then they have recruited more than sixty volunteers and raised forty thousand dollars. Organizers say it was an opportunity for the community to celebrate everything the LGBT community has accomplished, and continue to fight for equality.

"We wanted the celebration to continue, because even though Maine has come so far toward advancing LGBT equality, there's still more work to do, and there's a lot more to celebrate" Co-Chair Jill Barkley said.

With the start of election season, politics played a major role in the festivities.

All three candidates for governor were invited to participate in the parade. Democrat Mike Michaud was honored as a grand marshal and Independent Eliot Cutler marched in the parade. Both candidates addressed the festival crowd.

"Now we need to extend the fight for equality to a fight for equal opportunity," Cutler said. "Because a victory for equality and for equal rights is incomplete until we have equal opportunity for every man, woman, and child in the state."

"It is the very fact that you could have the first openly gay governor win this race," Mike Michaud told the crowd. "I will have a seat at the table, so I can look at my colleagues in the eyes and talk about LGBT issues, talk about equality, because these issues are going to be done at the individual state level."

Governor Paul LePage declined an invitation to participate.

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