At last year’s Stonewall Parade and Festival, Progress Bar had one headliner. That wasn’t enough for this year.

So for this year’s event, held on Saturday, June 17 along Wilton Drive, Albie Pierantoni, general manager at Progress Bar, hired two – comedian and singer Wendy Ho, and drag queen comedian Jackie Beat. Progress is also setting up two stages and will be giving out prizes.

“Every year, we probably go pretty big compared to every other bar,” Pierantoni said. “It’s our time to give the community something to do that is not done every day . . . really give them the feeling of pride and celebrating together.”

Gary Santis, of The Venue, said providing entertainment for Stonewall is something that helps bring the community together. Like Progress Bar, The Venue will have two headliners – DJ JPS, mix master for Power 96, and DJ Kidd Madonny. “We’re preparing a massive stage. It will be bigger than usual this year. We’ve got a lot of surprises in store.”

To give Stonewall attendees another reason to invest some time and energy walking to the north end of Wilton Drive, Nick Berry, co-owner of Rumors Bar & Grill, will also set up his own stage. “To bring the community down to the north end of the Drive, you need some kind of focal point here.”

Rumors, he said, “has always been known to be the event bar.” Having a stage with performers is part of keeping that reputation going. And for this year’s Stonewall, Berry said he’s got the biggest headliner – Lillie McCloud, dance and R&B singer and former “The X Factor” contestant. “I’m looking forward to a nice, dry event,” joked Berry.

Radio station iHeart will have a stage at Northeast 6 Avenue across from the Shoppes of Wilton Manors. Radio stations 93.9 MIA & Y100 Miami and NBC 6 in the Mix South Florida will also have a presence on the street.

The Wilton Manors Entertainment Group [WMEG], the group working with the city to organize the event, has again left it up to individual businesses to provide entertainment. Jeff Sterling, CEO of WMEG, said his organization can’t afford to bring in its own headliner because of the costs of providing security.

After all the expenses are added up, including travel, hotel, and other accommodations, Sterling estimated a “halfway decent” headliner would cost $30,000. 

“It’s not cheap.” But, he added, the goal is to bring in a major performer within the next two years. That’s part of, as Sterling has said in previous interviews, growing the event.

When that does happen, Sterling said the bars and restaurants will still be encouraged to provide their own performers. “I actually think it’s an advantage [compared to other closed-off events]. We feel they can provide a larger variety [of entertainment],” Sterling said.

As for this year’s event, Sterling is a little nervous about the weather. But, even if it does rain, he still expects a large crowd. And, despite the lack of politicians participating because it’s not an election year, Sterling said the parade, which starts at 4 p.m., will have over 70 participating organizations and last about 90 minutes.

An hour before the parade starts, spanning the length of Wilton Drive, will be food trucks and over 100 vendors, spread out over the entire length of Wilton Drive, including Hustler Hollywood, Solera Specialty Pharmacy, Center for Spiritual Living Fort Lauderdale, All Saints Episcopal Church, JJ Dental, Broward House, Pet Cancer Group, Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida, South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, Better Business Bureau, Front Runners Fort Lauderdale, and the Dolphin Democrats.

Wilton Drive, from Northeast 20 Street to Five Points, will be closed from 4:30 a.m. on June 17 to 4:30 a.m. on June 18. Before Stonewall, the NBC 6 Cafe' will be at Rosie’s Bar & Grill, 2449 Wilton Drive, on Friday, June 16 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Free coffee and food will be served. 

Parking costs $15 [cash only] and is available at the Northeast 8 Terrace lot, city hall, Fort Lauderdale High School, the Municipal Complex, and Richardson Park. The city’s free Wilton Drive shuttle, which is used Thursday to Sunday, will not be operational the day of the event. It will resume service on June 18 – 6 to 10 p.m.

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