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On Saturday afternoon, LL was watching the weather report with bated breath, as a line of thunderstorms threatened to put the kibosh on this year’s Capital Pride Parade, the centerpiece of the yearly gay-community celebration and the first chance for the players in this year’s campaign season to truly come out. (Yes, pun intended.)

Luckily, the show went on. The big news of the parade were the mystery signs:

All along the parade route, posted on lampposts were signs reading “Ask Carol Schwartz why she OPPOSES marriage equality” in Schwartz’ trademark yellow-and-white. The signs carried absolutely no indication of where they might have come from. Shady!

Gay activist Peter Rosenstein told LL he had seen folks on stepladders posting the signs earlier in the afternoon, but neither he nor anyone else LL consulted had any idea who they were. The challengers who marched in the parade—-Adam Clampitt, Dee Hunter, and Patrick Mara—-all denied having anything to do with the signs. (A Clampitt aide, in fact, phoned in a preemptive denial, before LL even showed up for the parade.)

Schwartz called it “the work of a cowardly liar” and furthermore implored LL not to “rain on my parade” (har har) by giving the cowards any ink—-sorry, Carol! (For more on the does-Carol-support-gay-marriage theme, read Washington Blade articles by Rosenstein and by Schwartz.)

LL thought he might have solved the mystery when, right on the middle of the 17th Street NW commercial strip, a spectator holding one of the signs in one hand and a drink in the other marched right out to confront Schwartz, who was walking behind her yellow Pontiac Firebird. From a distance, LL seemed to see Schwartz saying to the interloper, “I do! I do!” in response to the sign’s query.

After Schwartz passed, LL asked the man, Andrew Campbell of Dupont Circle, whether he’d been involved in the signmaking. Nope, he said—-“I pulled it off the lamppost.”

LL quizzed him further on the reasoning behind his anti-Schwartz stance. “I dunno,” he said. “Look at what the sign says!”

The crowd rest of the crowd seemed not to care much. Take this spectator reaction to the confrontation: “Tell him to fuck off, Carol!”

Many more pix after the jump!

Top Honors: LL’s going to give it to Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Wells started the parade in the back of a silver Mini Cooper piloted by his wife Barbara Wells, and LL cracked to the councilmember something along the lines of “Way to go, Mr. Liveable Walkable.” Wells had a bulletproof comeback: “It’s a Zipcar!”

But Wells really set himself apart thanks to Michael Ulrich and Paul Cooper, a couple that Wells married in Florida last month. Cooper and Ulrich (pictured) both marched with signs reading “Thank You Tommy Wells for Presiding at Our Wedding.”

Mendo Gets Leid: At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson arrived with 28 gross—-that would be 4,032—-plastic leis for parade spectators. LL did not hear a louder cheer all day than when Mendelson aide Jason Shedlock plucked two fresh garbage bags full of leis out of the trunk of the Mendomobile.

Fenty Takes Aim at LL! Mayor Adrian M. Fenty rolled up to the front of the parade in his new smart fortwo right before the start, joining about two dozen supporters (somewhat less enviro-friendly: the Ford F-150 pickup bringing up the rear).

When Fenty saw LL snapping pictures on P Street NW, Hizzoner took the opportunity to take a few shots of his own—-he whipped strings of beads at LL. Fenty’s no Greg Maddox Maddux, though: He failed to make contact with LL or his camera.

Challengers Compare Favors: Two of Schwartz’s challengers—-Mara and Clampitt—-meet and compare beads. Mara dipped into his surprising war chest and came equipped with 4,200 strings. Clampitt took a different approach to his favors, opting for lollipops. Clampitt showed with about a half-dozen supporters and no vehicle or banner. He did, however, catch the eye of WRC-TV anchor Wendy Rieger, who was working the review stand. “That’s you? You’re very cute!” she announced. “That’s just a straight woman’s opinion, but you’re very cute!”

Carol Goes Green, Sort Of: Seeing as Schwartz didn’t announce her re-election campaign until less than two weeks ago, LL can forgive her for not having brand-new signs ready to go. So instead, Schwartz recycled signs from last time around, albeit with the date cut off:

Hitching a Ride: Ward 3 Councilmember Mary M. Cheh didn’t arrive with her own entourage, so she joined At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, the only openly gay councilmember marching on Saturday. (Ward 1’s Jim Graham was in Turkey, representing Metro at an international transit conference, though he did give the keys to his cream-colored Beetle to his staffers for the parade.) Catania opted for a black Mustang, albeit one with South Carolina plates. Cheh didn’t stick around for the whole ride. By the time LL caught back up to Catania on New Hampshire Avenue, Cheh had scurried off. Said Catania, “She said, ‘Suck it!'”

Muriel’s Wet T-Shirt Parade? Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser brought her typically strong ground game, with about 10 supporters and two vehicles—-a Nissan minivan and a Jeep Liberty. Bowser also went strong with the beads. In a rare display of chromatic restraint, Bowser originally didn’t wear anything besides a visor in her signature Kelly green, opting instead for a white blouse. When the rain started pouring about a half-hour into the parade, though, Bowser was forced to layer up out of modesty and donned a green campaign T-shirt.

Other Tidbits: LL’s camera crapped out about halfway into the parade, but here’s some other notes:

  • No one revels in a parade like Eleanor Holmes Norton. The District’s congressional delegate showed up with only three supporters and a banner (no beads!), but she earned big cheers prancing through the parade route, blowing kisses and giving the V-for-victory wave.
  • Ward 2 challenger Cary Silverman had the most festive vehicle of the parade, a green Jeep Wrangler Sahara decked with beads and fringe. He brought along about a dozen supporters, about matching the contingent of incumbent Jack Evans, who marched in front of his own, relatively unadorned Chrysler Sebring convertible.
  • Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray had the best favors, at least from a promotional standpoint. Gray’s beads featured a plastic pendant with his name and his “One City” logo. Gray says he ordered about 3,000 of them out of constituent-services funds.