PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2019 VIP Sponsor Party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its annual VIP Sponsor Party at the Florida Aquarium March 28.

The evening celebrated the organization’s partners, sponsors and supporters ahead of the fifth annual Pride weekend. It featured a tour of the aquarium, music by DJ Jayson Clancey and was hosted by FOX 13 anchor and former Tampa Pride grand marshal Russell Rhodes, who soon introduced the city’s outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

“This is a time for celebration,” Buckhorn shared, thanking attendees for honoring Tampa’s diversity. “Think about the journey that we’ve been on collectively in the last eight years and what a different city this is. It’s a city that the world is paying attention to … because we’ve become a beacon of diversity, a beacon of hope, a beacon that stands tall. This city that we will celebrate on Saturday is stronger, better and more competitive because we honor diversity as a strength and never as a weakness. Thank you for allowing me the chance to be here for eight years, it has  been an amazing honor. Happy Pride!”

Tampa Pride’s board subsequently presented the mayor with a signed Tampa Pride flag, thanking him for his years of support. 2019’s Mr. Tampa Pride Aries Mateo Kelly and the parade’s grand marshals Amy Demilo, James Encke, Ja’Staria Infiniti, Nick Staszak, Tyler Reed and the Tampa Bay Pride Band were also highlighted and Metro Inclusive Health received an award for their community support.

Jane Castor and David Straz, one of whom will become Tampa’s next mayor after the city’s April 23 runoff election, also shared their experiences with Pride. If elected, Castor—Tampa’s former chief of police and two-time Tampa Pride grand marshal—will become the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Watermark was on hand to help celebrate all things Tampa Pride—check out some of our photos below!

Photos by Dylan Todd, Ryan Williams-Jent.

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