PFLAG, Rice, Aller named Pride’s 2014 Grand Marshals

By : Steve Blanchard
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St. Petersburg – It was a packed house at Bert Smith Auto Group on April 17 as supporters of St. Pete Pride anxiously awaited the announcement of this year’s St. Pete Pride Grand Marshals. With more than 4,000 votes cast, the results are in.

St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice, ASAP’s Jay Aller and PFLAG Tampa Bay will represent the state’s largest LGBT Pride celebration this year during its first-ever night parade.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting me and, interestingly, more people voted in this than in my primary,” joked Rice, who, along with the other marshals, was presented with a medal and a trophy. “I didn’t get one of these when I won my last race, though.”
Rice recognized the other women in her category, Ashley Brundage and Sharon Herman.

The public had an opportunity to vote for grand marshals throughout the month of March. It’s the second time the organization has chosen its grand marshals this way, and the bump in participation shows that it is gaining traction, said Eric Skains, executive director of St. Pete Pride.

“We actually heard from San Francisco Pride, which wanted to learn more about our process,” Skains told those in attendance. “That organization is like the definition of Pride, and we’re thrilled they wanted to learn more about us.”

Aller, who was the first grand marshal announced, thanked those who voted and also recognized the other nominees in his category: Christopher Tate and Andy Citino.

“We all have one thing in common, and that’s a love for this community,” Aller said. “It is an honor to be counted among men like this.”
John and Nancy Desmond of PFLAG Tampa accepted the award for their organization, and thanked the crowd for letting them be part of the LGBT community.

“Who would have thought we’d be here just four years after our son came out to us,” Nancy Desmond said to a round of applause.
All three grand marshals will participate in the St. Pete Pride Promenade on Saturday, June 28 in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg. This year’s promenade begins at sunset and ends at 11 p.m. The St. Pete Pride Street Festival is the next day, Sunday, June 29, from 11a.m.-6 p.m. on Central Avenue between 22nd Street and 28th Street.
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