Pride flags waving in the wind, music blaring from boats, and socially distanced solidarity.
That’s how FLoatarama got its start two years ago. Now back for its third year, the event is bigger and beneficial for even more of the community.
Up to 40 boats will set sail on June 11 up the New River and along the Intracoastal Waterway. The event is one of the biggest Pride month events in South Florida and kicks off Pride Week. FLoatarama’s president, Scott Schramm, said the third year will be the biggest yet.
“The Flotilla will be similar to last year, but we’re working on additional commercial vessels so more ticketed passengers can participate even if they don’t have their own boat. Each boat will have a really fun group aboard, open bar, music and a ton of fun as we cruise the waterways and celebrate pride on water.”
Leading the parade will be a pair of VIP boats, donated by Water Taxi. Schramm said the vibe will be very South Florida.
“The vessels will have an open bar. This year we have expanded capacity to 175 and look forward to a much larger and bigger event. You will board the boat in downtown Fort Lauderdale and for the next 90 minutes celebrate pride as we enjoy the sun-filled day with cocktails, music and many friends.”
And when the flotilla ends, the party begins.
“When the boats dock, you will step off into a Sailors Dance and Pool Party.”
San Francisco DJ legend Matt Consola will once again be spinning for the party. He also is creating a set that will be streamed during the flotilla, letting every boat groove to the same music despite being far apart.
Schramm said all the elements combine to make for a memorable day.
“A Pride Flotilla on the waters of the Venice of America, a waterfront location for the Sailor’s Dance & Pool Party at Residence Inn Intracoastal, and amazing DJ in Matt Consola. We’re expecting 400-500 at the party, sunshine, hot guys, cocktails, and a great cause. What’s not to like?”
Due to logistical limitations of sailing a large number of boats through a major metropolis, FLoatarama is limited to 40 vessels. Among boats will be a lot of Broward County’s top organizations.
“We had 34 registered boats last year. Fort Lauderdale Marine Patrol, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Wilton Manors Police, with the mayor and vice mayor onboard, and the Coast Guard will all be participating in the Flotilla. We welcome everyone under the sun and boaters that are in support of us as well as our LGBTQ+ boating community.”
A New Partner
After the fundraising success of 2021, FLoatarama took steps to solidify its support of the community. They became a 501(c)3 organization, and partnered with Our Fund Foundation.
“We spent a lot of time figuring out the best use for the funds we raise. We’re focused on supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged LGBTQ youth, primarily in the areas of education, homelessness, and personal development. Our partnership ensures the funds we raise to achieve the greatest impact in the community.”
Our Fund Foundation CEO and President, David Jobin, told SFGN that the two organizations are hand in glove.
“We are a natural partner for Floatarama as they expand their event to include both fun and philanthropy. We have built a reputation for knowing the needs of South Florida’s LGBTQ community and where resources are most critical. We are thrilled that the leaders of Floatarama have placed their trust in us to help them direct their gifting to non-profits.”
To help focus on how money is distributed, Our Fund started the FLoatarama LGBTQ Youth Fund.
“FLoatarama comes in with instant credibility given the reputation of the leaders of their organization and their presence in the community. They were sincere about their desire for transparency so that attendees and supporters will actually see the impact in the community that their generosity and participation fosters. I worry that similar party fundraisers aren’t following through with their promise of philanthropy and giving back. That’s certainly not the case with the FLoatarama team.”
Pride In A Pandemic
FLoatarama got its start when COVID-19 forced the Stonewall festival to be canceled in 2020. But proud boating enthusiasts were not going to be denied.
“Pride was canceled, but we were allowed to take private boats out with up to eight people on board,” Schramm said. “We did it for fun, and were blown away by the number of boats that participated, the enthusiasm, and the great press coverage. We realized we’d stumbled onto something, and the encouragement we received from the community was heartwarming.”
With the pandemic appearing to ebb in summer of 2021, organizers decided to go big. They became a two-day celebration with activities on land and at sea. The water parade was on Saturday and featured the VIP boat on a Water Taxi, and the Sailor’s T-Dance on Sunday.
The event raised more than $17,000.
“The weekend was a huge success, and we donated $17,134 to the Pride GED Educational Program, fully funding it for 2021 and beyond.”
Recognition From Wilton Manors
Renewed civic support came from the city commission of Wilton Manors. At their meeting on May 24, they issued a proclamation declaring June 11, 2022, as FLoatarama Day. The city will have a boat in the flotilla.
For more information on how to participate in FLoatarama, visit their website Floatarama.org.