For the fifth year in a row, The Pride Center has been chosen by Wilton Manors to produce Wicked Manors.
Wicked Manors, one of the city’s biggest events, is held every Halloween along a closed-down Wilton Drive and attracts thousands of people in and out of costume. This year, the event will be from 7 to 11 p.m.
“We’re expecting over 20,000 people,” said Robert Boo, Pride Center CEO. “We have a history of successfully putting this event on and it’s a great way for us to raise awareness about The Pride Center and our programs.”
Boo said the event, which also raises money for The Pride Center, attracts gay and straight attendees and that the costumes are what brings people out. The event has a history of elaborate and flamboyant get-ups. “That’s really the big draw for everyone – parading up and down Wilton Drive. There’s lots of eye candy and characters to watch,” said Boo.
This year’s theme is “Heroicons,” which was unveiled during Stonewall in June. “You can go as [comic book] heroes and icons,” said Boo. Along with the costumes and costume contests, Boo said the basics of the event will be the same, but his organization is working on some new features, such as new stage entertainment.
As part of its contribution to help facilitate the event, the city will pay $9,000 to FDOT to close Wilton Drive, waive event and temporary building permit fees, which would have cost $3,000, and give The Pride Center 50 percent of net parking revenues – $2,800. Promoting the city as a tourist destination is one of the objectives of city officials.
But even with the city’s help, The Pride Center still has to shell out a big chunk of change for security.
Because 49 individuals were murdered in Orlando at Pulse in June of 2016, the organizers of Wicked Manors, Stonewall, Pride Fort Lauderdale On the Beach, and other LGBT events, have had to spend a lot more money for security.
“Security’s still going to be one of our utmost priorities. We’re working with the WMPD,” Boo said. He estimates the cost will be about $30,000, the same as last year. “Unfortunately, that’s the world we now live in. It’s just unavoidable, even though nothing has ever come up with Wicked Manors. There’s no credible threat. But better safe than sorry.”
For more information on Wicked Manors, visit WickedManors.org.