Wilton Pride Boosts Businesses

Photo by Brendon Lies.

Wilton Manors' businesses and residents are still buzzing about the large crowds and overall smooth execution of its June 16 Pride event.

The city of about 12,000 saw more than triple that number come out to its sidewalks and streets – about 40,000 – for the “Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Festival” held largely along Wilton Drive.

City officials thought the event “went splendidly.”

“[I] thought it was the best Stonewall Pride of the last six that I’ve attended,” said Johnnie Goodnight, an administrator in the city manager’s office.

Goodnight referenced an economic impact analysis of last year’s event that the city commissioned. In 2017 it was estimated that total event spending reached about $4.1 million. The number included hotel nights and transportation use on services like Uber and Lyft, among other spending.

The analysis was not repeated for 2018, but the $4.1 million was estimated on 34,000 visitors. Organizers think about 40,000 came out this year.

“I do believe it was a larger crowd [this year],” said Wilton Manors business owner Nick Berry. “I think we were probably up about 35 percent [in revenue],” he said, noting that it was easily the busiest Pride since at least 2015.

Berry has lived in Wilton Manors for 30 years and serves on the planning and zoning committee as well as the economic development task force. “I have a pretty good pulse of the city,” he said.

Berry has owned the Courtyard Café for 11 years, Rumors Bar & Grill for six and the Tickin Ribbit gift shop for almost one. All are located on Wilton Drive.

“I attribute a lot of the sales to the excessive heat that day,” said Berry. “It caused people to drink and eat more. All three locations did better than expected.” He said he employs about 60 between all three businesses.

Berry and others gave props to the efforts of Jeff Sterling and his staff at the Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, part of a nonprofit partnership that organizes and executes the event.

“Jeff’s done an incredible job and only gets better and better every year he does it,” said Berry. “I called him the night before [Pride] at 9 p.m. about some Porta Potty’s that hadn’t arrived. He got dressed and left his house and next thing I know it was taken care of."

Sterling previously told SFGN that he thought the event went very well, even though some attendees were upset about a new $5 admission charge to help subsidize the cost of logistics and public safety. He said that overall, however, attendees were happy with the event.

And although there was a pedestrian accident about a half a mile from the festivities at about 7 p.m., Sterling said no major incidents were reported.

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