The first South Florida Caribbean Pride Festival will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 in Wilton Manors at Eucalyptus Gardens. Cost is $5.
Bryan Wilson, administrative director of SunServe, said the event will be a family friendly block party. Wilson said Eucalyptus Gardens, with its outdoor space and multiple shops, is a perfect environment.
The celebration will feature a team of dancers organized by SunServe member Richard Forbes, a variety of local vendors, and reggae music courtesy of DJ Biscuit and Superior Sounds. There will also be a children’s area with clowns, face painting and caricature artists, sponsored by CommCare specialty pharmacy.
The festival “aims to celebrate myriad Caribbean cultures, their influence on South Florida, and, of course, the LGBTQ Caribbean people and their allies,” Wilson said.
Eucalyptus Gardens owner, Deanna Allen, offered use of the gardens free of charge. Allen is also of Jamaican heritage.
Wilson said he was most surprised by the overwhelmingly positive amount of feedback, and the excitement of the community to build the celebration from a small event to a full on festival.
SunServe is a nonprofit that supports the LGBTQ community. Their mission statement includes providing “high quality, culturally relevant care for all with an emphasis on those in financial need, minorities, youth, seniors, HIV plus persons, and those with life-challenging physical or emotional conditions.”
Wilson said the idea for the Caribbean festival began about seven months ago after SunServe received a call about an incident of violence that occurred against an LGBT Jamaican family and their guest during a Jamaican Independence Day celebration in Pembroke Pines.
A lesbian couple and their daughter, brought a gay friend with them to the celebration. At some point a small crowd began to pelt their guest with beer bottles, calling him by the derogatory term “bati boy.”
“SunServe immediately recognized the need for more safe spaces wherein all individuals of Caribbean Island descent and heritage may celebrate their culture in a venue affirming of the LGBTQ community,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the caller originally asked SunServe if they could host an LGBT friendly Jamaican Independence Day party in Kingston. While Jamaica might be a little outside of SunServe’s range, the more broadly encompassing Caribbean festival is building up to be a much welcomed event here in Broward County.
Check out SunServe’s event page at SunServe.org/Events for details. The Eucalyptus Gardens are located at 2430 Northeast 13th Avenue in Wilton Manors. Call 786- 399-7422 or visit Eucalyptus-Gardens.com for more information.