The annual event is fresh and new, but almost didn’t happen

Call it a rebirth if you will.

Pride Fort Lauderdale, redesigned, rescheduled and repackaged, comes to Holiday Park Oct. 10-11. National recording artists, television stars and local entertainers are scheduled to perform during the weekend.

Formerly known as Pride South Florida, Pride Fort Lauderdale has a new governing body and is hoping its reorganization will spark a change in attitude for the community at large.

At the beginning of this year the future of Fort Lauderdale’s PrideFest was in doubt after the annual March event was cancelled. The organization regrouped and attempted to combine its PrideFest with the annual Wilton Manor’s Stonewall festival but the City of Wilton Manors balked at that idea, instead choosing to form their own committee to host a standalone event. The newly rebranded Fort Lauderdale Pride made a last ditch effort to hold it in October, despite conflicting with Orlando Pride taking place the same weekend.

It appears everything has now come together.

“We are really trying to put on a fresh new face and build a sense of environment that will make people come together,” said Miik Martorell, treasurer for Pride Fort Lauderdale. “Our goal is to make people feel proud of their community.”

Music is a major part of Martorell’s community. A disc jockey with more than 20 years of experience in the South Florida club scene, Martorell started spinning records at the Copa in 1998 and has served up tunes at the Coliseum, Voodoo Lounge and, currently can be found on Friday nights at The Manor. He said Pride Fort Lauderdale 2015 features an array of up and coming hip-hop talents led by the female rapper, Trina.

“She (Trina) has 15 years in the business and has rapped with everybody,” Martorell said.

Trina is scheduled to take the main stage on Saturday at 6 p.m., the final act of the first day.

The setting for Pride Fort Lauderdale is a stark contrast to neighboring LGBT celebrations in Miami Beach, Wilton Manors and Lake Worth. Holiday Park (800 NE 8th Street) provides ample trees in a venue that includes War Memorial Auditorium for those wanting a break from the sun’s sometimes unforgiving rays and heat.

Inside War Memorial Auditorium, Pride organizers say, will be informative tables operated by non-profit, community-based organizations. The space will also house the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a stirring reminder of a disease that has greatly impacted the LGBT community.

“Kids today don’t know how easy that have it,” remarked Barrie Wood, Pride Fort Lauderdale exhibits coordinator of the Quilt.

Wood has been busy preparing the ticketing system for this year’s event. He said he expects between 2,500 to 5,000 people to attend each day.

“This will be a great event,” Wood said.

It is, however, an event that almost did not happen.

The organization underwent a tumultuous tenure during the leadership of Marc Hansen when PFL saw accusations of bullying, secret meetings and overall mismanagement.

“The Pride organization has been restored financially and organizationally,” said current President Norm Kent. “It is responsible, ready and all set to run the festival.”

Day Two of Pride Fort Lauderdale features a closing performance by the duo, Dumblonde. The women, Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex, were once part of the group Danity Kane from the MTV hit series “Making the Band.”

“They are getting a huge push,” Martorell said. “They could possibly be the next Lady Gaga.”

When asked his thoughts on the controversy that has been a part of the Pride Fort Lauderdale narrative leading up to this year’s event, Martorell said, “a lot of wonderful people make silly decisions.”

“We’re hoping this will be a unifying event,” he added. “We want people to feel like they are really cared about and tell us how they feel.”

Moving the festival to October, Martorell said, was a wise decision.

“Now our friends in Miami, Palm Beach and the Keys can participate and there are no conflicts,” he said.

Advance tickets are on sale at PrideFortLauderdale.org A two-day general admission pass is $20 which covers the cost of parking. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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