Stonewall will return to Wilton Manors, and so will the optional $5 entry fee.
Organizers for the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival, held Saturday, June 16 along Wilton Drive, first asked attendees to pay the fee last year. Rising security costs have created a need to raise more money.
Jeff Sterling, CEO of the Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, which is working with the city to put on the event, said that security costs have increased again – $34,000 last year to $38,000 this year.
This year organizers are going to make more of an effort to ask people to pay, but they still won’t force people. “It’s always going to be optional . . . If 13,000 people gave five bucks, that’s a substantial amount of money. It’s a game changer for us,” Sterling said. The entrances for the event are Northeast 21 Court, Northeast 6 Ave, and Northeast 9 Avenue. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.
This year’s event, which drew 35,000 people last year, will start at 4 p.m. when the Festival Marketplace opens. Vendors will include food trucks, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and local businesses. The parade is slated to begin at 5 p.m., go down Wilton Drive, and last about 90 minutes. Right now, about 11 organizations and businesses, plus several trucks, fire trucks and emergency vehicles will be part of the parade. Sterling said he expects more to sign up as the event gets closer.
Instead of staging the parade floats at Fort Lauderdale High School as in years past, this year they will be staged on Wilton Drive just south of Northeast 21 Court. The rest of the street, from Northeast 21 Court to Five Points, will be closed off.
It’s smaller than previous years but Sterling said financial constraints forced a smaller event.
“Unfortunately, we had to remove that section. That’s doesn’t mean it’s a permanent thing. It’s a this year thing.” But he hopes that the event can be expanded if future grants, such as one worth up to $65,000 from the Broward Cultural Division, can be obtained.
To help do that, organizers are tracking how much money is spent in Wilton Manors and Broward County because of Stonewall. They hope to use that information to show grant providers, such as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, how valuable the event is economically to South Florida.
“We get that [cultural] grant, a good amount, say $30,000, we get our entertainment back,” said Sterling.
To make up for a lack of entertainment provided by Stonewall’s organizers, local business owners have been providing their own entertainment on outside stages for several years. This year’s private stage sponsors are Rumors Bar & Grill, Hunters, The Manor, and iHeart Radio. The first three will have a stage set up in front of their locations on Wilton Drive. iHeart will have its stage at Northeast 6 Avenue.
Parking will be available for $20 at Hagen Park, 2020 Wilton Drive; Richardson Park, 1937 Wilton Drive; the 8th Terrace Lot, Northeast 8 Terrace and Northeast 26 Street; City Municipal Complex, 2100 N. Dixie Hwy.; the new lot at Northeast 23 Drive and Northeast 11 Avenue; and Fort Lauderdale High School, 1600 NE 4 Ave.
Special all-day in and out parking is available online for $40 at WiltonManorsStonewall.com/parking. Visit WiltonManorsStonewall.com for more information on the rest of the event.