To enjoy St. Pete Pride, be prepared with these hints

By : Steve Blanchard
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Even though St. Pete Pride is in its 12th year, you may not necessarily be as prepared as you think you are. With a new schedule, a few new rules and Florida’s unpredictable climate, we thought it might be a good idea to offer a checklist of sorts for the estimated 130,000 attendees headed to St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District the last weekend of this month.

Remember, this is a four-day event now, with a special Pride ceremony at City Hall at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, concert on Friday, June 27, a night time parade on Saturday, June 28, and a street festival on Sunday, June 29. It’s a long weekend, and to ensure you enjoy it, it’s best to be prepared and avoid surprises.
Arrive early
Parking in the Grand Central District is tricky, especially during Pride. Whether you’re arriving for the parade on Saturday or the festival on Sunday, plan to arrive early to make time for parking—and the walk you may have to take from your car to the event. There won’t be any parking available in the lot across from Georgie’s Alibi! That’s for parade preparations only.

The parade starts at dusk, so give yourself plenty of time to find a prime viewing spot along Central Avenue by arriving at least an hour early. Remember, there’s a block party that starts at 5, so it’s not like you’re going to be bored waiting for the parade to start.

Take time to decorate
If you or your organization are in the parade, you can arrive in the Metro Wellness and Community Center parking lot as early as noon on Saturday, June 28. You can decorate your float, practice your routines (we’re talking to you, twirling and dancing groups) and simply enjoy the day. Just remember, your float must be in position and ready to roll by 7 p.m. and don’t crank loud music all day long as you’re preparing.

We’re told that the parade will begin its familiar trek in front of Georgie’s Alibi, through Kenwood and down Central Avenue no later than 8:30 p.m. The plan is to have the entire parade wrapped by 11 p.m. The parade route is in the official St. Pete Pride guide, readily available inside this issue of Watermark.

Set up your booth early
While the street festival doesn’t start until 11 a.m. Sunday, vendors can begin loading in at 8 a.m.! That means businesses and groups have a full two hours to get those tents up, the tables decorated and all of that fabulous Pride swag ready to hand out to attendees. Organizers ask that you enter the festival at 22nd Street and Central as you drive to your designated area. But remember, you have to have your vehicle out of Central Avenue by 10 a.m. and your booth ready for presentation by 10:30 a.m.

Love those pets by leaving them at home
Our four-legged babies are our hearts and our souls. So why torture them with crowds, loud music, flying beads and hot pavement? St. Petersburg is very pet friendly, but the environment of Pride just isn’t. Dogs can get stepped on, eat human food that could make them sick later on and get spooked by all of the commotion and noise. The sidewalks will be packed with spectators during the parade and the street festival will be under the Florida sun, so the asphalt will be incredibly hot. Even in the shade or those adorable pet strollers, those pets can get overheated.

So do your beloved little ones a favor and leave them at home in the air-conditioned comfort of your home with Animal Planet on the TV. They’ll appreciate it, we promise.

Stay healthy and hydrated

It’s important to keep yourself hydrated during both the parade and the festival. True, the parade is at night this year, so we won’t have the sun beating down on us.

But it’s summer. In Florida. On asphalt. So yeah, it’ll be warm.

Keep bottled water handy or bring cash with you to purchase cold drinks from the vendors.

The same rules apply on Sunday during the street festival. It’s going to be hot, so stay hydrated and don’t forget the sunblock. We love seeing those hot, sun-kissed bodies, but we want them protected. Swing by your favorite store the week before pride and stock up on some SPF30.

Keep it clean
Pride is a fun day. Hot men and women are dancing in the streets, having a few adult beverages and celebrating who they are. But remember, there is a family element to the festivities as well. So please, keep that in mind. Pride is for everyone and showcases the diversity of our community. Respect others and respect yourself.

Enjoy the entertainment
There are tons of acts taking to the stages during the street festival on Sunday. Drag kings, drag queens and musicians have all donated their time and talents to St. Pete Pride 2014. Two stages will be running all day long on Sunday beginning at noon. Stop by, cheer on the local—and visiting—talent and enjoy their art. Also remember to be patient to the posted schedule. Outdoor festival entertainment doesn’t always run perfectly on time. So relax and enjoy. Your favorite performer will be up there soon enough, and in the meantime, you may find another act you enjoy just as much.


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