Palm Beach PrideFest 2015 Celebrates Victories and Looks Ahead to Ongoing Challenges

Hosted by Compass Gay & Lesbian Community Center, the 22nd annual Palm Beach PrideFest theme is “#Winning,” in celebration of the great strides made toward LGBT equality over the past year. Most notably, Florida’s newly won marriage equality.

Coupled with the much anticipated celebration is the anticipation of the victories still to be won for the LGBT community.

“More than 70% of Americans live in a state with marriage equality. We have more positive representation and visibility in sports, music, television, and film. We're making history every day. There's a lot to be proud of.

This upcoming year, we'll continue to stand in solidarity with the transgender community against discrimination. We made our gender neutral bathrooms official last year with brand new signs. No one should be disrespected or harassed in Compass' bathrooms, within the walls of our center, or in our community,” said Ryanmarie Rice, chief of staff for Compass.

“If there were nothing left to fight for then there wouldn’t be a Compass,” said Event Coordinator and Director of Outreach, Jimmy Zoellner.

One thing that sets Palm Beach Pride Fest apart from other Prides, is the ongoing support and involvement of the Lake Worth and Palm Beach communities, said Zoellner.

Not only Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo, but all the city commissioners expressed an interest in participating in the event in one form or another.

“How often do you get all of the elected officials to want to be in your parade and want to speak? We’ve actually had to say no to some of them, but it’s so flattering,” said Zoellner.

Triolo and Compass CEO Tony Plakas, participated in the annual raising of the Pride Flag over Lake Worth City Hall on Tuesday, in the lead up to the festival.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, guests can look forward to an extensive entertainment lineup including performances by Teri Catlin, Lime, Michaela Paige (The Voice), Lillie McCloud (The X Factor), J.D. Danner, Joni Bottari, Katia Nicole, Aaron Salem. Also MC’d by drag celebrities Melissa St. John, Ricky Rollick, Velvet Lenore, and K-Otic Force. And featuring performances from Voices of Pride the Gay Men’s Chorus of the Palm Beaches, the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble and the Palm Beach Makos Cheerleaders – to name a few.

Some other things that set this year’s PrideFest apart from previous years are its location at the newly renovated Bryant Park, which had been undergoing construction during last year’s event.

With renovations complete, the park is now 25 percent larger, which Compass hopes will help them break the record for previous attendance numbers of 20,000. But also allows for a brand new Kids’ Zone.

The Kids’ Zone will feature craft projects sponsored by Home Depot, face painting and other activities and giveaways provided by the Compass Youth Program.

According to Compass, Sunday’s “We’ve Got Spirit” parade will feature more than 50 LGBT and allied groups, charities, organizations, and local sponsors in their favorite champion sports gear, celebrating a victorious year for the LGBT community.

That’s just one more thing that makes PrideFest a unique event to host and participate in, said Zoellner, the diversity of not only the organizations and sponsors participating, but the whole community that comes out to show its support.

“I love that people don’t look at PrideFest just as a big festival strictly for gay people, everyone looks forward to it. We participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade last week and people there told us ‘We’re going to your parade next, because that’s the fun one.’”

PrideFest of the Palm Beaches will be held at Bryant Park March 28 and 29 from 12 to 6 p.m. The pride parade will begin at Lucerne and M Street beginning at 11:30 a.m. traveling through downtown Lake Worth and ending at the park.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the day of the festival. Children under 12 get free admission with parent or guardian. Tickets are available at CompassGLCC.com or from the following locations:

Roosters, 823 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach
Fort Dix Bar, 6205 Georgia Ave., West Palm Beach
Mad Hatter Lounge, 1532 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth
Compass, 201 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth
Studio 205, 600 Lake Ave., Lake Worth
Penny's at the Duke, 902 N. Dixie Highway, Lantana


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