The Proud invade GaYbor for the third annual Tampa Pride celebration

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

TAMPA – The Ybor City Historic District will play host again to the third annual Tampa Pride celebration Saturday, March 25.

“Tampa Pride is in several parts this year,” says Carrie West, Tampa Pride’s president. “The Main Stage area, which is at the Hillsborough Community College –Ybor City Campus parking lot – will kick off first thing with the Tampa Pride Marching Band to introduce everybody and play some tunes to get everyone warmed up.”

The opening ceremony will consist of speakers from local LGBT organization representatives, entertainment and words from Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Tampa Pride’s Festival Expo, which after being moved across from Centennial Park last year, will be back along 8th Ave. and will run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. featuring more than 100 LGBTQ vendor tents.

“There will be a second stage; along with food trucks, art and a beer garden at the Crowbar at 8th and 17th,” West says.

At noon in front of Centro Ybor, Tampa Pride will holda “Tribute to the Community.”

“Last year we brought in a section of the Sea-to-Sea Key West Pride Flag, which had been in Australia,” West says. “We had it in the parade last year and then we sent it to The White House in Washington, D.C. Tampa Pride was the last organization to have this 40-foot section of the Pride Flag. The White House took it to the Smithsonian Institute for permit display at their museum.”

This year, Tampa Pride will have a 100-foot section of that legendary flag which will be marched in the parade.

Tampa Pride will also pay tribute to Orlando and the victims of last year’s Pulse massacre.

“Tampa is the sister city to Orlando and we want to honor our family,” West says. “Pulse owner Barbara Poma will be attending along with some Orlando government officials and more than two dozen survivors of the Pulse shooting.”

Poma and the Pulse survivors will also march in the parade; walking with white dove balloons, rainbow balloons and placards with the names of loved ones that were lost.

The Tampa Pride Diversity Parade will start at 1 p.m. at Nuccio Parkway and 7th Avenue and will make its way through the heart of the GaYbor District to N 20th St.

The parade will feature over 120 floats, groups and organizations marching down 7th Avenue throwing out beads in every color of the rainbow. Featured in the parade will be representatives from two corporations who got their Pride start in Tampa — Bristol-Myers Squibb and USAA.

“They have people coming in from across the country just to be a part of Tampa Pride,” West says. “People from USAA’s home office in San Antonio and Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Jersey, and even some flying in from London.”

Leading the way will be Tampa Pride’s 2017 Grand Marshals: former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and local entertainerJoey Brooks. As well as Pride’s “Grand Couple,” Hotspots Media publisher Peter Clark and partner CletoBeuren, 2017 Miss Tampa Pride Kenya M. Black and “Community Leaders” Sandy Freedman Vince Pardo and Sandy Freeman. Freeman is Tampa’s former mayor.

“Sandy is such a hoot,” says West. “Plus she really turned things around for the gay community by acknowledging us and bringing in the gay chorus’ convention back in 1996.”

Tampa Pride has a few national celebrities to go along with our local ones. All-American singer Steve Grand will perform on Tampa Pride’s Main Stage at HCC and internet sensation Randy Rainbow will be mingling all day at Honey Pot.

“Steve Grand is currently touring Australia and is the Grand Marshal for Mardi Gras in Sydney,” West says.”He also has a new album coming out on March 24, so it will be released while he is here in Tampaand he is going to be playing some stuff from that new album. He is also going to be out at some of the GaYbor clubs Friday night meeting and greeting fans.”

The past two years, crowds for Tampa Pride have been larger than expected, and the excitement doesn’t seem to have slowed this year. Tampa Pride is estimating between 25,000 and 30,000 people for this year’s celebration.

“We are getting everything in place and we are working hard to bring Tampa the best pride yet,” West says.

Share this story: