For the first time in history, giant rainbow floats, drag queens, marching bands, and more led a Pride parade down State Road A1A along the beach, and it was glorious.
“I thought it was a good turnout. It seemed a little short but the parade itself was good,” said Dunny Potter, who attended the parade. “It was nice to be by the beach with the sunset and all.”
Another attendee, Mykhe Hesson added: “The gogo dancers were definitely an attraction for most of the viewers. There was one guy in a car representing a dealership who just revved the engine and threw items out the window. It seemed a little disrespectful to the community. If you’re gonna participate, participate. The float for the radio station had a lot of energy and was actively involved. They had music and interacted with the people. That’s what you would expect from a parade.”
Floats and participants lived up to this year’s “Carnival” theme with massive headdresses, elaborate costumes, macrame puppets, and flashy dancers.
“One float was promoting PrEP. I really appreciate that. It came right after that float about AIDS prevention It was nice to see that activism,” Potter said.
The event planned for over 80,000 spectators along the route from Sebastian Beach to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, and ended with a block party at 5th Street and SR A1A.
The parade was a display of the Fort Lauderdale community with LGBT organizations, corporate sponsorship, marching bands from local schools, and more.
The marching bands seemed to steal the show, as each group had dance routines — one band finishing their set with every member doing a death drop.
It was the marching bands that impressed Potter the most.
“The marching bands were the best. One of the high school’s was in it and they were all young kids and they were really into it,” Potter said. “It was so great to watch the younger people. That was really fun to watch. The young people made it feel like it was not just gay but everybody. It felt really inclusive.
A panel of float judges and drag queen hosts gave commentary on each of the marching groups, often taking to the street to ask participants questions or join in the dancing. Many of the floats would stop and give a short performance Macy’s-Day-Parade-style, with judges cheering on the flashiest of them.
Onlookers were spread out throughout A1A, but most of them gathered around the judges’ stage — some people even sitting on a nearby rooftop to get a good view.
After the show, the crowd migrated to the block party with DJ Dani Toro, featuring drag and music performances, a tech-heavy stage with lights and visuals, and people of all ages and identities dancing to a variety of music.