The 2014 Celebration of Friends takes place in just a few weeks. Attendees can expect big changes, as the gathering will happen in Orlando, rather than South Florida. Event organizer Thomas Pence is excited about holding the event in Central Florida.

Greg Kabel

“In the past, many of the hotels in South Florida weren’t that friendly to gay people. One hotel didn’t live up to its contract. Upon our arrival, we were informed they would only feed half of us. Another kicked us out of the pool at 6 p.m. because the security guard didn’t like to see two men hugging. We stayed at the Sheraton for so many years because it was the only hotel to live up to its promises,” Pence said.

This year’s Celebration of Friends will be held from July 17-20 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld. The event is a chance for mature gay men, and those who love them, to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

Last year’s celebration was attended by gay men from France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Finland, Ecuador and other locations throughout the world. With such a diverse gathering of men, this event is the perfect place for gays to meet.  The oldest participant was 93, while the youngest was 22. The average age of the nearly 500 participants was 55 years old.

This year, aside from the private pool parties, movies, nightly entertainment and karaoke “friends” attending in Orlando will have the city at their fingertips. That includes complimentary shuttle service to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. Pence predicts this year could very well be the best yet.

“Over the years, we’ve become like a family. Every major city has a Prime Time meeting club. But ours is by the least expensive. Every year, it’s getting better and becoming more inclusive and more racially diverse,” he told SFGN.

When: July 17-20
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld
10100 International Drive Orlando, FL 32821
For more information: CelebrationofFriends.org