After the attacks in Orlando and France, hosting Wicked Manors is getting a lot more expensive.
But Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center in Wilton Manors, the organization hosting the annual Halloween event, said he’s still glad to do it.
“It’s a great way to have everyone [gay and straight] to come together. It’s a great way for us to bring together the community in South Florida . . . raise awareness of The Pride Center,” said Boo.
The hope is that the increased security, “Tripled,” said Boo, won’t be needed but will be there just in case. The Pride Center, as in past events, is accepting donations and sponsorships to help fund the event.
Boo said the crowd is expected to be less than the 30,000 who came last year because Halloween falls on a Monday this year. Although Wicked Manors occurs in a city with such a large LGBT population, Boo doesn’t view it as an LGBT event.
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He doesn’t have any official tracking data on how many event attendees are gay or straight but Boo estimates the makeup is evenly divided. “That’s the reason I don’t say it’s an extension of the [Stonewall] festival.”
But like Stonewall, which is held every June, city officials also talk positively about Wicked Manors happening in the city, which draws visitors and positive media attention.
Chief Paul O'Connell said the security concerns of Wicked Manors aren’t as big as Stonewall but still very important.
“From a policing standpoint, it’s not as intense but we still have the same security concerns. Very early in the review process we said this is not going to be the level of Stonewall 2016 which was six days after Pulse. But it’s not going to be Wicked Manors 2015 either. We’re always worried about security,” said O’Connell. “It’s the old saying: ‘you prepare for the worst and you hope for the best.’”
But while he’s prepared just in case, O’Connell doesn’t expect much trouble. “The attendees have been nothing but gracious guests in Wilton Manors. In my five years, we’ve probably made three or four arrests and that has to do with too much drinking.”
The event will start at 7 p.m. and end at 11 p.m. Wilton Drive will be closed down a few hours before and after the event. Sponsored mainly by Hunters Nightclub, the event’s theme is “Political Nightmare!” and will include Hits 97.3, entertainment, costume contests and HIV support, education, outreach, prevention and testing.
For more information on sponsorships, call 954-463-9005 or visit wickedmanors.org.