Last year, when Renee Manning danced along the route at the Boston Pride Parade, she was elated. She's a transgender woman and felt the love of Greater Boston. But the next morning, when she woke up and heard the news of the Pulse Night Club shooting, she was heartbroken and feared she would never want to dance again.
"I went from the mountain top to the valley," she said. "I couldn't believe I was dancing, they were dancing. They were shot and I was not killed. I thought, 'What happened?'"
Then she had an idea -- she'd build a float for this year's parade and invite 1,000 people to her Grand Dance to honor the victims and survivors. The word spread to Orlando, and 30 survivors decided to come to Boston.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"There's a lot of crying, but it's good. It's the first time us survivors are around other survivors," said Enakai Mpire, who wasn't working at Pulse that night, but after hearing about the shooting, went down to try and help.
Kassandra Marquez, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who hid in the bathroom the night of the shooting, not sure if she'd ever see her family again.
"She's going to let me dance in her grand dance. I'm excited!" she said.
And Josean Garcia, who was on the stage at Pulse that night and lost friends, also expressed gratitude.
"I'm a little nervous to be around a lot of people, but it's just so much love," Garcia said.
Manning and her wife, Serena, have been working for months to finish this float. They hand-cut 162 letters, mapped out 49 flags for the victims, and have two DJs ready to spin the Latin tunes that were playing the night of the tragedy.
On Saturday, when they're all dancing on this float, Manning says she wants them "to see a sea of love and support all around them."