Letters to the Editor: A Thank You from Beach Bear Weekend

Saying Thank You to the guys that made BeachBear Weekend an incredible success doesn't seem to be enough. Jim Cooper, truly a promotional genius gave us a worldwide presence that was beyond imagination. We used our passion and technology to bring people together in Fort Lauderdale.

We couldn't have produced BeachBear Weekend without the partnerships of the bars involved, from Scandals and especially Hunters to Ramrod and 321 Slammer among many others. While we received no county funding, we did receive an incredible valuable partner in the country and the men of Spain. Christian Frischele and the guys of Madrid kicked in funds to replace money needed to produce the event. The gay community has an incredible amount of talent.

BeachBear was our dream to have Bears visit Fort Lauderdale and create a "cruise that didn't leave port" Fort Lauderdale shined as we sold out the rooms at the Marriott and the gay guesthouses and other hotels. Bars and businesses set records.

No one before had all the bars and business backing one event to benefit our city. However, no other event has ever had the County of Broward not back them.

Criticism of county agencies is a good and constructive way of learning to improve our destination. The county and city should not stay in the Spring Break mindset of 50 years ago. It should also be transparent and open in its formulas for funding and its officials should be accessible. Unfortunately doors were closed to us. While we'd like to do BeachBear 2016 county officials and their promotional budgets remain opposed.

Charities are facing challenging times with cuts in funding as health services grants are being re-directed. BeachBear Weekend tried to help fill in some gaps by giving proceeds to the Pride Center, Latino Salud and Abandoned Pet Rescue. In the past we gave to Sunserve. We appreciate all of the help these charities gave to produce the event.

2015 was the toughest year yet to produce the event and by far the best. We became the largest gay event on Fort Lauderdale Beach. I questioned and challenged the status quo and I questioned myself for doing this event.

But we sold well over 1000 rooms and contributed over 2 million dollars into the local Fort Lauderdale economy in room sales, restaurant and bar revenues and worldwide tourist dollars. These were not just locals -our pictures easily prove that. Our guys came from all over, UK, Europe, Spain, Northeast, Midwest, Atlanta, Texas, California. It was hard work and at times we were attacked for it. We were not interested in staying in Wilton Manors and doing a parking lot party. We wanted gay men from all over the world to experience our world class beach. And they did.

Thinking BeachBear Weekend is over makes me incredibly sad. But then I get into my jeep with my dog Tanner and drive to that beach and jump in those turquoise warm waters and if that doesn't make you smile I don't know what will. I love Fort Lauderdale.

It was an incredible experience to show so many people what a very special place that we are allowed to live in. 

Thank you Fort Lauderdale.
Bob Young

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