By just about any standard of measure, Pride Fort Lauderdale 2019 can be chalked up as a big success. More than 120,000 visitors from the U.S. and beyond experienced the 42nd annual Pride Fort Lauderdale festival, which took place from Thursday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 24 in greater Fort Lauderdale.
The 2019 Carnaval theme paid tribute to the diverse ethnic communities that call Fort Lauderdale home and to the Mardi Gras/Carnaval season and included the first parade ever held on A1A, along iconic Fort Lauderdale Beach.
"Overall, we’re very pleased with Pride Fort Lauderdale 2019. From the Runway Fashion Show kick-off at the Hard Rock on Thursday to the festival on Sunday, Pride was bigger and better in practically every way,” said Miik Martorell, president of Pride. “And, there was absolutely no bigger thrill than seeing the Carnaval parade coming down A1A on Saturday—especially when you consider the hundreds of hours of planning, meetings with the city, and preparation required to make the very first parade on the beach in city history a reality.”
The event-filled festival kicked off with an all-star fashion show at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on Thursday, Feb. 21. Hosted by fashion guru Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye” and “Fashion Police,”, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” all-star Naomi Smalls, the event attracted nearly 1,000 fashionistas.
Before the Pride Fort Lauderdale parade stepped off on Saturday, Feb. 23, Pride Fort Lauderdale partnered with the South Florida Wine and Food Festival, being held the same weekend, to host a fabulous brunch at the Ritz-Carlton with performances by local drag queens and national stars. Later that afternoon, more than 50,000 people witnessed the very first parade of its kind in Fort Lauderdale history. The parade was led by the grand marshals; Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a transgender activist who was in the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village during the historic 1969 police raid that sparked the modern LGBT rights movement, and Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, Dean Trantallis.
“We’re especially appreciative of our Mayor Dean Trantalis and our city leaders, police and fire rescue departments, sponsors, volunteers and community partners for sharing our vision and we look forward to hosting Pride of the Americas in April 2020,” Martorell said.
Winning parade entries including Dillard High School (marching band category), Flockfest (best walking group), Wilton Manors Police Department (best decorated vehicle), iHeart Media/93.9 MIA (best float), and Trans Pride (best interpretation of Carnaval theme) joined dozens of others. Judges included Stacy Ritter, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Ina Lee, Travelhost Media Group; Rod Hagwood, South Florida Sun Sentinel; and SFGN publisher Norm Kent. WWE superstar and E! “Total Divas” cast member Sonya Deville was featured on a float. Singers Pepper MaShay and Deborah Cooper performed on the Trans Pride and Pride of the Americas floats.
A number of restaurants and bars along the route hosted viewing parties including a “She Tea” women’s dance party at Spazio and a benefit for Latinos Salud at Cafe Ibiza. The largest event was a Bear Beach Bash which drew hundreds. Following the parade, many spectators and participants stayed for a Pride Block Party at 5th St. and A1A and enjoyed performances by local drag queens, musical acts and danced to music from DJ Dani Toro from Spain.
The festival concluded on Sunday, Feb. 24 with the traditional Pride Fort Lauderdale beach party. “American Idol” fan favorite Ada Vox and singer, choreographer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Todrick Hall headlined the festival. Approximately 50,000 people attended the festival. The weekend did not go without incident; during the festival there was an altercation between two individuals on the dance floor in which one person was stabbed. Police were on the scene in minutes and detained the alleged assailant, other than that there were only minor disorderly conduct complaints, most of which were easily resolved.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been proactively targeting and welcoming the LGBT market since 1996, when it became the first Convention & Visitors Bureau with a gay-centric vacation planner, and dedicated website on a CVB homepage. Since then, the destination has continued to break down barriers and facilitate essential visibility for the LGBT+ community at large.
“Greater Fort Lauderdale is a very welcoming destination, and I’m so proud of our community and hospitality industry for embracing diversity and inclusion and showing our local residents and visitors how welcomed they are here during Pride Fort Lauderdale and year-round,” said Richard Gray, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
(Via Youtube, Pride Fort Lauderdale 2019) -Way to go NORM!!!
Check out all of SFGN's 2019 FTL Pride Stories...