East Central Florida’s LGBT community will gather Oct. 24 at shade-covered Old Fort Park in New Smyrna Beach for the fourth annual Volusia Pride.
“It gets bigger and better every year,” says Cindy Casey, who has volunteered at Volusia Pride since its inception and is serving as the 2015 chairperson. “There’s a lot to celebrate as we continue to grow.”
Casey says all married couples are invited to participate in a group blessing performed by Rev. Dr. Diane Langworthy, a United Church of Christ pastor.
As for growth, Casey said that this marks the first year that vendor space has sold out, so visitors can expect a wide variety of offerings, featuring craft home furnishing and political booths. Walgreen’s is a first-time sponsor, and will be giving free flu shots. The family-friendly event will appeal to children, with face painting and touch tanks containing underwater critters, provided by the Marine Discovery Center.
Entertainment includes musical performances by singer-songwriters Davey Leatherwood and Shawn Thomas, a contemporary Christian musician who does outreach work with the LGBT community. The Dewey Rose Band is back by popular demand after their performance at last year’s Volusia Pride. RAJE Kings, a group of impressionists, will perform popular songs of today as well as Motown classics.
Volusia Pride is a free event, but participants are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items, which will be donated to the Gifts of Love Food Pantry, Casey says. Contributors will receive a raffle ticket for each item they bring with no limit on quantity. These tickets will be entered in giveaways for hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates and paintings donated by local artists.
As part of a community art project, event goers will have the opportunity to leave their handprints or write a message in rainbow-colored paint on an 8-by-10-foot canvas during the festival.
The New Smyrna Beach community has always been supportive of Volusia Pride, Casey says.
“From the mayor right on down, everyone has been very accommodating and helpful in putting this on,” Casey said. “We get a huge cross-section of people coming. This is for the LGBT community as well as its allies.”
Festivities kick off under the park’s old oak trees at noon and continue until 5 p.m.