Anger, frustration and enmity were the dominant emotions on yesterday's march, but some protesters brought a message of love and tolerance.
While political concerns were top of the agenda for most, others brought their own troubles, from worries about property prices to environmental problems and pleas for gay marriage. Mother Carrie Chan, with her 13-month-old son, said: "I'm so angry. I must bring [my son] to this march. I don't want the next generation to live undemocratically, have no choices and emigrate."
She said she had been a supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who marked his first anniversary in office yesterday, as he had originally appeared smart and credible.
But he had lost credibility and she now wants him to resign. Cross-border tension and an influx of mainlanders, blamed for everything from a shortage of milk powder to inflated property prices, were also a worry.
"Hong Kong should have the final say in deciding who from the mainland can reside here," said Choi Kam-shan, who was with a group of protesters waving colonial-era flags.
Katherine Lam, a Form Six student, said she was disappointed that Leung had failed to bring down property prices despite a series of cooling measures.
"I see no prospect of my buying a flat in the future," she said.
Dozens of Tseung Kwan O residents marched to oppose a proposed extension to a landfill site in the new town. The government withdrew a request for funding for the plan last week amid opposition from lawmakers and local residents.
"Expanding the landfill is unfair to us," said Christine Fong Kwok-shan, a Sai Kung district councillor who was collecting recyclables in two government recycling bins along the route.
Other people on the march had love in mind. Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, of the gay group Big Love, waved a placard that read "Give love a chance" on a makeshift stage in Causeway Bay, where gay and lesbian groups spread the message of equality. "A law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is just not enough," he said. "Gay marriage should be allowed, as it is a world trend."
Wong also said Leung should step down if he continued to govern the city the way he had in the past year.
About 1,000 people from the Alliance for Hong Kong Animal Police took to the streets to demand a dedicated team to investigate cruelty to animals.
"We don't want Hong Kong becoming a hub for animal torture," said Zoie Cheng Kam-shan, an alliance spokeswoman.
But the government remained the top concern of most.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, who joined the rally as a convenor of the think tank Hong Kong 2020, said Leung should start consultation on political reform soon.
"The current government is detached from reality and doesn't listen to criticism," she said. "I hope Beijing can see that Hongkongers have been waiting for democracy for a long time. Without a mandate, the chief executive will not be able to rule effectively."
Ada Lee, Stuart Lau, Joyce Ng, Shirley Zhao, Tony Cheung, Emily Tsang and Cheung Chi-fai