One of the biggest parties the city has ever seen kicked off Friday night as WorldPride festivities officially began in Toronto.

Five years in the making, WorldPride 2014 Toronto opened with a flag-raising ceremony at city hall at 7 p.m. The ceremony will feature performances by Melissa Etheridge, Deborah Cox and Steve Grand, as well as a fireworks display and laser light show.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, who recently became the first openly gay person to be elected premier of Ontario, was in attendance, as was Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto’s only openly gay member of council.

Speaking with CP24 Friday morning, Wong-Tam said she’s excited to be part of the kickoff.

“It’s been a very long year of organizing and we’ve been working hard with our partners at Pride Toronto, so we’re very excited that it’s happening tonight,” Wong-Tam said.

She said the city is expecting about 20,000 people to attend the kickoff. However up to two million people are projected to visit the city over the course of WorldPride to take part in the festivities.

Speaking with CP24 Friday, Kevin Beaulieu, executive director of Pride Toronto, said the flag raising is expected to be a fun event that may include a few surprises. However, he said while pride events are meant to be fun, they remain rooted in rights issues.

“Pride is a celebration. Everyone knows about the parade, it being one of Canada’s largest arts and culture festivals,” Beaulieu said. “But it’s also part of a global movement that celebrates and builds LGBT human rights. It’s a celebration grounded in human rights. It’s a party with a purpose.”

Toronto was awarded hosting duties for WorldPride 2014 back in 2009. The event will mark the first time that WorldPride has been held in North America.

The CN Tower, as well as city hall will be lit up in rainbow colours throughout the end of the 10-day festival.

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