Finishing touches are being put on the parade, vendors are booked, and security is paid for.

Getting to this year’s Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival hasn’t been easy, but the event is finally upon us.

The festival is 3-11 p.m, Saturday, June 18, with the parade starting at 7 p.m. Wilton Drive will be closed all day through early Sunday morning. Grand Marshals will be SunServe’s Misty Eyez and NBC6 meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin. More than 100 groups will march in the parade and 97 vendors will line Wilton Drive.

Several stages will line The Drive. Organizers told SFGN that the Girls Stage will be by Bubbles & Pearls and the Center Stage/Black Excellence stage will be across from Hunters and Alibi. The Black Excellence stage was added this year to recognize Juneteenth, which is observed this Sunday.

Several bars and organizations are having their own stages, including The Manor, which has several top DJs scheduled. DJ Mogote Coyote will be spinning at Eagle.

Happening Out Television Network will be on Center Stage and broadcasting the parade live online, on Roku and other platforms. The lineup of performers for this stage hasn’t been released.

Admission is $7 for online advance purchase and $10 at entrances. Entrances include Burgers & Beers, 21st Ct & Wilton Drive, at 6th Street, and Rosie's.

Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and owners clean up after them.

Cost of Safety

While the trappings of Stonewall are familiar, the atmosphere around the event is not. Costs have soared, primarily for security and insurance. Right-wing groups have been making threats toward LGBT groups and Pride events.

Two weeks ago at Pride On the Block in West Palm Beach, police, undercover agents, a SWAT team, and more worked to stop a credible threat. A teenager in Canada has been arrested and will likely be brought to the U.S. for trial. Last weekend, militiamen from 12 states converged on Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with the goal of starting a riot at a Pride event. Police were tipped off and found the group in a U-Haul on their way to the event.

SFGN talked with Wilton Manors Police at the City Commission meeting on June 14. We were told there are no specific threats made against this weekend party. However, there is always chatter and multiple law enforcement agencies are monitoring the traffic. Terrorists talk of using trucks or other big vehicles to plow through security. To counter these broad threats, security will be at all entrances and intersections. Various types of barricades, designed to stop large vehicular assaults, will also be in place.

This is in the shadow of last year’s Stonewall when a tragic accident in the parade staging area left one dead.

The cost of security has been a point of contention. Security, which involves multiple agencies, not just WMPD, jumped about 80% from last year. Adding to the burden was the fact that the cost wasn’t known until just a couple of weeks ago, forcing organizers to scramble to find tens of thousands of dollars. At the City Commission meeting, Mayor Scott Newton said he had negotiated the rate hike in half, relieving some of the burdens.

But this is a temporary solution to get the event through this year. There have been calls to have more transparency in figuring costs. Commissioner Chris Caputo said soaring costs of security could threaten future events including Stonewall and Wicked Manors, which is held around Halloween.

At the meeting, Caputo was more upbeat about future events, as was organizer Jamie Forsythe, who told SFGN, “I doubt very seriously this will be the last event because Wilton Manors needs the events. One of the things we should do is create a uniform policy for security at these events.”

Planning and paying for future events is an issue city and county officials will need to work on going forward, and SFGN will follow their progress.

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