Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 062415 Contents 24 // 6.24.2015 // SFGN.com // soflagaynews // SouthFloridaGayNews
Pavement Pride Fest Not So Festive
Holiday Park, here we come
column publisher's editorial
As I begin this editorial, I recognize I am treading on
thin ice. Wait, this is South Florida in June, so make
that walking barefoot on hot pavement.
I am here today to comment on the Wilton Manors
attempt to conduct a Pride festival in June on Wilton
Drive. It failed. The hearse in the parade said it all. Yes,
we can compliment the effort, but you have to live with
In this case, the daytime activities were sparsely
attended and driven more by crass commercialism than
spiritual advancement. Basically, you had a vendor fest
on the Drive in the middle of the summer on a 100-degree
Pride festivals have to be more than businesses giving
away balloons and entertainers performing on a stage.
They need to be a unifying and galvanizing force for the
community. A late evening parade and a street festival
would have been fine, but the city of Wilton Manors
refused to scale down the event.
Still, keep in mind that closing the street and opening
the bars does not make a Pride festival. Hell, they do that in
Austin, Texas every weekend at 10 p.m. If Wilton Manors
was smart, we ought to send a city commissioner or two
over there to see how it is done, and how it has generated
immense revenues and created an artistic community.
Heck, their motto is 'Keep Austin Weird.' That's a title
Wilton Manors should own!
Some self-disclosure needs to be made. In the last year,
I became chair of Pride Fort Lauderdale, which used to be
known as Pride South Florida. The group ran the Wilton
Manors Street fair last year, and they lost so much money
doing it, they could not run a festival in Holiday Park this
past spring, as they had for years and years.
I became a volunteer and eventual chair for Pride South
Florida, which has now changed its name to Greater Fort
Lauderdale Pride, and moved its Holiday Park festival to
October 10 and 11. I think it is going to be a home run, and
here is why. Instead of talking about what was, I would
rather share with you what will be.
First, we have partnered with the Greater Fort
Lauderdale Convention and
Visitors' Bureau, to generate
publicity and promotions.
Second, we have partnered with
the Miami and Fort Lauderdale
Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to
use the park setting for evening
films indoors and possibly
outdoors, tying into their film
festival the same week.
Third, we have joined with the
Stonewall Library for them to set
up a historical display and exhibit
in the Rotunda as community
members enter the festival during National Coming Out
Day, which is October 10.
Fourth, we have invited various AIDS organizations to
conduct educational seminars and on the spot testing
with a host of their mobile testing units.
Fifth, we have partnered with SunServe and the City
of Fort Lauderdale to have a closing party Sunday night,
for Pridelines Youth Services, October 11 on the historical
Himmarrshee Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale,
reaching out to city residents in a mainstream venue.
Sixth, we are going to have politicians, but don't look
for proclamations and speeches. The media and elected
officials will join in promoting our gay softball leagues
with a celebrity softball game. Expect Debbie Wasserman
Shultz to field grounders instead of questions.
Seventh, we are going to have a children's and family
section promoting a petting zoo with donkeys, chickens,
and even those little ponies kids can take rides on.
Eighth, we are going to have entertainment to be sure,
but more than that, older LGBT members will find small
seminars with retirement planning, financial counseling,
parenting, and legal advice.
The bottom line is that a festival has to be more than
businesses selling hot tubs and bars giving away beer.
You have to realize that with Mack Mixers, business and
professional groups, we already
interact often, even on a weekly
basis through various functions
Based on that, we have to do
more than just throw a party. At
Holiday Park, we are all together,
in the shades and the trees, with
an indoor auditorium. It gives us
an opportunity to bring people
closer, share the moment a little
We are working on a parade
guarantee you there won't be a
Hearse in it. The bottom line is that the ideas we have need
to be implemented and executed. We have volunteers, but
we need more, and experienced persons at that. We need
Pride Fort Lauderdale meets every second Monday,
7 p.m., at the Pride office, located at 690 Northeast 13th
Street. You can reach out to us with your donation or time
by calling 954-561-2020 or check out our website. To lease
a booth, or rent a space, simply go online and pick your
Running a festival like this is a challenge like I have never
faced. I hesitate to criticize those who gave their time and
effort to do so in Wilton Manors last week. But as I told the
city commissioners last January when they expected Pride
Fort Lauderdale to run it for them again this year, it was
not a wise choice, neither financially prudent or socially
practical. This past weekend again proved that to be so.
As the publisher of SFGN, it is my duty to make sure our
paper reports on the Wilton Manors festival, its finances,
and its fortunes. Last year, this newspaper unhesitatingly
wrote about Pride South Florida's misfortunes, and this
year, when appropriate, our reporters will independently
write about the job Pride Fort Lauderdale is doing,
regardless of my title or position.
Unfortunately, as people are saying on Facebook, the
Wilton Manors festival appeared to fall flat on its face. One
of our more respected community leaders, Terry DeCarlo,
now running Orlando's pride center, even called the event
'pathetic.' It will now be up to Pride Fort Lauderdale to see
if our team can rise to the occasion and do what Wilton
Manors could not.
Let's move from what just happened and see now what
we can all do. Let's say thanks to those that tried, and
welcome to those who volunteer. There is much to be
done, and less than 120 days to do it. Let's work together
to celebrate Pride in a year that we will gather not just as
domestic partners, but married couples.
Let's work to make Greater Fort Lauderdale Pride an
event we can all celebrate and commend.
Photos: J.R. Davis.
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