Your Guide to Stonewall Summer Pride

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Over 30,000 people from all over the country travel to Wilton Manors and crowd the streets each year to celebrate Stonewall Summer Pride.

This year, the local Pride is expected to be bigger and better than ever before. On June 22 to June 23, the 14th annual festival will hit the streets of Wilton Manors. Last year, the event drew a crowd of over 30,000 people and more are expected this time around.

It’s been expanded to a two-day event, including a parade, marketplace, and live entertainment. The event, which is planned by the Rainbow Business Coalition of Fort Lauderdale, will close down Wilton Drive for the full two days of festivities.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Journey into Equality,” a celebration of the achievements made in the LGBT community in the last few years. According to a press release from Stonewall Summer Pride, with adoption being made legal for same-sex couples in Florida, and historical cases of same sex marriage expected in late June, the theme of the festival was an easy choice.

In celebrating Stonewall Summer Pride 2013, you can expect to see some changes since last year, from making the entire affair a day longer to keeping the markerplace open longer — and there will be more live entertainment featured in this year’s festival.

The events begin at 5:30 p.m. on June 22 with DJs playing live music before the big twilight parade kicking off Summer Pride. The following day, Summer Pride will begin at 11 a.m. with a street festival and marketplace and lead up to a live concert at 7:30 p.m.

Here are all the details of the can’t-miss events in this year’s Stonewall Summer Pride:

Red Hot & In Style Bachelor and Bachelorette AuctionWhen: June 20, 2013 8 p.m.

Where: The Manor

2345 Wilton Drive

Cost: $20 cover charge

If you’re interested in pre-gaming before the Stonewall Summer Pride festivities, your dream date awaits you.

The Rainbow Business Coalition joined forces with Deliver the Dream — a non-profit organization that provides retreats to families of children with severe illnesses — to bring you an LGBT bachelor and bachelorette auction.

Over 15 bachelors and five bachelorettes have been recruited, and will auction off dream dates at the event. According to Christie Galeano, special events and marketing manager at Deliver the Dream, the event is expected to draw a crowd of about 300 people. There will be music, drink specials, and no shortage of good times, said Galeano.

Each bachelor and bachelorette will create a dream date of their choice which goes to the highest bidder. Bids are usually somewhere between $200 to $1000, according to Galeano.

“It could be anything from dinner for two, to horseback riding, to a cheese-and-wine-tasting,” Galeano said.

Twilight ParadeWhen: June 22, 2013 7:30 p.m.

Where: Wilton Drive

Cost: Free

All along Wilton Drive, you’ll see a line of colorful floats and groups of people marching in this parade.

The parade kicks off at the south end of Wilton Drive near 20th street and dozens will march all the way to Dixie Highway either on a float or in a group by foot. Everyone will crowd the streets at 6 p.m. as DJs spin music to begin the parade. At 7:30 p.m., everyone will begin marching and you can watch the twilight parade as it strides down Wilton Drive.

Part of the parade is a contest held by Stonewall Summer Pride to see which participants bring the best to the festival. One contest is the Over the Top Grand Prize Float. The float with the best decorations, music, and enthusiasm will take this title. Last year, the Pride Center at Equality Park took the title with a Wizard of Oz themed parade float covered in bright colorful balloons and members in costumes.

“We had Dorothy, the tin man, the lion,” Chief Executive Officer of the Pride Center Robert Boo said. “Last year’s decorations were so much fun.”

This year, the floats are expected to go along with the theme of Summer Pride, “Journey into Equality,” and organizations have been prepping for weeks.

“We’re in it to win it,” Boo said.

Another contest is for the Best Walking Group. Last year’s winners, The Hammerhead Aquatics, marched with blue balloons and held a large hammerhead shark puppet above their heads.

The grand marshall of this year’s event is Craig Stevens, anchor of WSVN Channel 7 News.

Following the march along Wilton Drive, local DJ, Kidd Madonny, will take the main stage, spin club music and hold a laser light show at the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 6th Avenue.

Street Festival and MarketplaceWhen: June 23, 2013 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Where: Wilton Drive

Cost: Free

As you walk down Wilton Drive, you’ll notice the Stonewall Summer Pride marketplace kicking into high gear all day on the second day of Summer Pride.

Over 175 vendors will be setting up booths along Wilton Drive with a variety of foods and products from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Vendors from all over South Florida have signed up for booths with products ranging from jewelry, to artwork, to clothing.

Food booths and trucks will also be set up all along the streets. A variety of foods will be sold: Sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and more.

Many of the local shops and restaurants along Wilton Drive will also be open for business so you can stock up on everything you need for the festival. Local bars along the drive will offer drink specials and set up outdoors near the streets. Among those bars are the Manor Complex, the Alibi, and Rosie’s Bar & Grill which will all have DJs, dance floors, and tents and bars set up outside. The Alibi will have $2 mojitos for the crowds to enjoy and Rosie’s will have happy hour from noon until 7 p.m. that day, along with other specials.

Everything you need can be found just along the streets until 6 p.m., but some booths can choose to stay open until 8 p.m. on the night of Summer Pride.

Summer Pride ConcertWhen: June 23, 2013 7:30 p.m.

Where: Wilton Drive and NE 6th Avenue

Cost: Free

After a full day of Summer Pride, the main event has a lineup that will leave you dancing all night.

Three big acts will hit the main stage in the final event of Stonewall Summer Pride. The summer concert will feature Amber, CeCe Penniston, and Kristin W. The concert is free and open to everyone. The performers hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. following the street festival.

The Summer Pride Concert lineup is filled with acts that feature dance music and house to keep the crowds upbeat and energetic. Amber’s blend of house and pop music is opening up to start the crowd with dancing. The Grammy-nominated singer will kick off the concert with pop hits like “This Is Your Night.”

CeCe Penniston is also in the lineup year and keeps with the dance music theme of the concert. She will be performing popular songs like her hit “Finally.”

Kristin W will also be performing in this concert lineup. This singer has been hugely successful in the dance music and electronica scene. She was recently named “Dance Artist of the Decade” by Billboard Magazine.

Local bars are expected to be open and offering drink specials near the main stage throughout the concert. The event should be a great way to end the two-day Stonewall Summer Pride 2013.

Summer Pride means business is booming

It’s usually slow for the Gelato Station on Wilton Drive and several other local shops and restaurants, but definitely not during Stonewall Summer Pride.

“There’s usually no traffic, so we’re definitely expecting to get more people,” said Juliano Amaroa, manager of the Gelato Station. For businesses like Amaroa’s, the two-day street festival is great for small businesses along Wilton Drive to bring in more traffic.

Last year’s Stonewall Summer Pride brought in huge crowds from all over the country, with an expectation of over 30,000 this year just along Wilton Drive. For businesses, this means all hands on deck for high volumes of customers.

Several bars and restaurants are expected to stay open and offer drink specials and more. The Village Pub on Wilton Drive is setting up a DJ to keep the crowd excited while they serve drink specials.

“We’re definitely excited. This is great for business and bringing in a huge crowd of customers,” Manager Tim Barton said.

Lining the streets throughout the second day of the event will be vendors selling everything from clothing to food. Individuals and businesses sign up with Stonewall Summer Pride to set up a booth and a tent along the streets and sell jewelry, clothing, food, artwork, and more at reasonable prices. Last year, Summer Pride brought in about 140 vendors. This year, over 175 are expected to be participating.

The Village Pub is also setting up tents along the street with other bars. The Alibi is doing the same.

“We set up tents and extra bars to handle all of the crowds,” manager David Haynes said. “It’s one of our busiest days, but at the end of it, it’s one of our best nights for business.” According to Haynes, last year’s festival was incredibly successful and they expect up to five times as many customers as during normal day.

Local bars have taken advantage of the street festival and are hosting special events during Stonewall Summer Pride this year. The Manor is hosting a bachelor and bachelorette auction on June 20, before the street festival. The Alibi is hosting a kickoff happy hour for the Rainbow Business Coalition, the organizers of Stonewall Summer Pride.

Even local shops are expected to stay open for a busy day. Gay Mart, also located on Wilton Drive, is keeping its doors open until midnight just for the event. According to manager P.J. Evans, it’s one of their busiest days of the year.

“It’s great for business,” Evans said. “At times, we’ll have the store completely filled with people.”

This also means more people working to cover the flow of the people. “We do have to have more people cover, but it’s always good for business,” he said.

According to Haynes, during events like Stonewall Summer Pride, it’s also more fun working during the event than on a regular day.

“We love the crowds,” Haynes said. “Everyone’s always in a great mood and just wants to have fun.”Lulu Ramadan