Pride South Florida Returns, Celebrates 36 Years

Break out your parade floats, rainbow flags and dancing shoes. Pride South Florida’s weekend-long PrideFest returns to Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

And not only is the two day celebration of the LGBT community returning to The War Memorial Auditorium in Holiday Park for its second year, 2013 marks the 36th year since the South Florida-based, non-profit company started organizing pride parades.

So how is one of the largest LGBT pride parade in the southeastern United States, marching on more than three decades after the struggle for equal rights began?

There is still a need for it, according to Pride South Florida Co-Chair Marc Hansen.

"Although we've gotten a lot of rights made available to us, we're still not free,” said Hansen, who started organizing this year’s feastival in January 2012 and started working on 2014’s festival last month. “And we need to remind ourselves that we don't have all our rights."

To make sure the message for this year’s PrideFest resonates with partygoers this year, Pride South Florida is also packing some positive reinforcements: the headlining American pop duo Karmin, live DJs arriving from across the country, more than 150 vendors, 25 food booths, beer and cocktails, a Children’s Pride Park, and a karaoke tent.

"In all honesty, for the price of our festival, we are a lot of fun, provide a lot of education and information. We stepped up our entertainment, so it's not stuff we used to see 5 years ago,” Hansen said.

“And if you really, really, want to see part of the community and learn on top of having a great time, then come to PrideFest. It'll turn you around and make you want to come every year."


Saturday March 9 at Noon to Sunday March 10 at 6 p.m.

Where: War Memorial Auditorium, 800 N.E. 8th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33304

Cost: $10 for a PrideFest one day ticket, $15 for a PrideFest two-day ticket




Meet the Board of Pride South Florida

PrideFests don’t happen by themselves. It takes legions of volunteers to put them on each year, with a dedicated board of directors at the helm. In order to highlight the individuals that make this happen SFGN is running their bios this week in honor of Pride South Florida this weekend.

Marc Hansen: Co Chair/President

Marc Hansen moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1989, after Eric Lawrence brought him here to MC a contest at the Marlin Beach. Eric told Marc I would be an adventure living here and yes he was right. I have MC’d. Performed and helped out with almost every HIV/AIDS organization, here and gone, since I arrived. I have done so with many of the most wonderful talents on Nicki Adams, Dana Manchester and others.  I am a U.S. Air Force Veteran, that loves this community with all his heart and being…almost to his detriment. I am fortunate to have the most wonderful, loving and caring husband, partner in the world. I have had over 15 surgeries for cancer and he ( Mark Maybe  Bar Manager at Rosie’s Bar & Grill ) has been at my side for each and every one of them. I love you honey!

Marc Scharphorn: Co-Chair/ Vice President

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Marc came to Florida 4 years ago after spending 20 plus years in College Athletic Administration in Michigan.  He spent all of that in Facility and Event Operations.  Marc and his partner Jim are co-owners of the Depot Cabana Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a friendly neighborhood bar with a pool and full kitchen.  This is Marc's first year on the Board of Pride South Florida.  Marc is the Co-Chair of the Entertainment Committee.  Marc likes to spend his free time with his partner and their three dogs, and is an avid college sports fan!

Rocky Bowell: Secretary

Rocky Bowell has been extremely active in the community since he first arrived in Fort Lauderdale back in 1999. This year as secretary of the Board and a member of the Sponsorship, Merchandise, Logistics and By Laws committees, Rocky has again become very active with Pride South Florida as he was during his original stint from 2005-2008. In the past he was a founding board member of Pride of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the Green Dog Day Festival.  Rocky has served as the General Manager of Pride Factory since 1999, where he enjoys serving the community here in South Florida.

Tim Towey: Treasurer

I am an honorary FL native and local for the past 10 years. I volunteered with the annual festival for two years and then joined the board. This has proven to be the greatest opportunity for me to give back to our incredible South Florida community. A community which has given me great pleasure to be a part of over the past decade. The past year we saw many local and national huge equality gains for our community that as a young Florida teenager I thought may not occur in my lifetime. While I am only a small part of an effort to bring equality to all, I could not be any prouder that I am with Pride South Florida. It is an honor I take seriously and to heart and with each day.

Miss Vicky Keller: Board Member Emeritus

Ms Vicky is starting her 32nd year with Pride South Florida.  She has filled every executive chair at least once, (with the exception of Treasurer). She has opened our weekends by singing the "Star Spangled Banner" and closed them by doing the last "walkthrough" to ensure that nothing's been left behind. She was honored as an "Emeritus" member and, in recent years, has brought in over $5,000 for Pride South Florida to grant to the community by chairing the silent auction table.  Pride South Florida is proud to know that she has always gone "Beyond the Rainbow" in her endeavors.


Roger Handevidt:

I moved to Fort Lauderdale from Minneapolis Minnesota and took over the Orton Terrace Guesthouse Jan. 24, 1980. I have been active in the GLBT oriented tourism and other community functions until the end of June 2011 when I sold the Orton Terrace. I bought a house in Dania Beach in 2004 and reside there today.  I served on the board of directors of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Hotel & Motel Association for 22 years and on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Redevelopment Board 6 years from 1992 to 1998.  I also served on the Board of Directors of the Rainbow Alliance from 2003 until June 2011. I also served on the Pride South Florida Board 2007 through 2009. I rejoined Pride South Board in June 2011.

Scott Holland:

Scott Holland, who was on the board of Pride South Florida for 4 years (3 of them being co-chair) in the mid 2000's, was happy to return to the board last year for one of the best PrideFest's ever.  In his time away, he achieved one of the most important goals in his life; obtaining his Masters of Business Administration, graduating with honors. In August 2008 Hotspots Magazine hired Scott as their Associate Publisher. Working together with the new owner, Peter Clark, they have catapulted Hotspots to the leading gay magazine in the State of Florida. Scott has even bigger plans for Hotspots Media Group, so watch out world – here he comes!

Sonia Mitchell:

I moved to South Florida in the late 1980s from one of the most homophobic country in the world: Jamaica. Searching to find my way I have stumbled upon a community that seems so far away, but yet has so much in common with me. A community that has experienced hate, and prejudice. I have been with Pride South Florida for over 16 years. I started out serving as a volunteer and eventually worked my way up to member-at-large, treasurer, secretary, and co-chair. I have also served on all committees. I have also served on the international GLBTQA human rights committee for 5 years, and received several awards for my activism in community affairs. I love people and it gives me great joy to be a part of something that brings people such joy.

Shawn Manning:

I Moved to Fort Lauderdale from Burlington, Vermont in 1988 when I was 21. I love it here. I have been on the Pride South Florida  board for 2 and a half years on the entertainment committee.  I’m in the tour business and music business.  I love to travel around the U.S. Happy pride everyone.

Dan Byers:

I've been a resident of Wilton Manors for 2 years. I moved here to hang out with friends and escape the cold climate in the Midwest. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.  After graduating from Ohio State University, I worked several years at Nationwide Insurance. I then migrated to Chicago where I continued my IT career for several years at Kraft Foods, Chicago Board of Trade and PepsiCo. Since moving to Fort Lauderdale, I co-owned and operated a local pizzeria with a good friend.  We recently closed the restaurant so we could each pursue different careers.  I am now a licensed Florida Home Inspector with my own business.?I am currently single, living in Wilton Manors with my best friend, his dog and my 2 cats.  When I have time, I enjoy the dining and nightlife of Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale with friends.

Sonia Aguero:

I came to U.S. in 1962 and lived in Northern Indiana for many years and then moved to Fort Lauderdale in the early 90's. I started volunteering for GLCC (what it was called then), joined the glow project (gay & lesbians offering warmth), an outreach program to the community, where I served as chair for 8 years. After that I continued on my own collecting toys at Christmas for another 3 years. I wanted to start helping our community and decided to join Pride South Florida for all the wonderful work and involvement for awareness they bring to everyone.

Mel Yarpi:

I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale and have lived here all my life. I enjoy softball, fishing, canoeing. Have been active in supporting the community for several years relating to HIV/AIDS. Joined the board to add to my support of the community.

Bonnie Majcher:

After moving from Long Island, New York to South Florida in 1979, I attended Florida Atlantic University.  I also have advanced studies in Management and am a Certified Behavior Analyst.  My work experience is varied and ranges from private practice to Juvenile Justice Program oversight to Health Center Administration, mostly in the Public Health arena. I have, and do, as much volunteer work in the community as time allows. Currently, I live in Boca Raton with my wonderful son, 2 cats, and 2 young adults that have adopted me! Always seeming to gravitate to some form of person centered service I made a decision to become a member of the board of Pride South Florida. I hope my experience and optimism will be an addition to a Board that is determined to move “into the future.”

Advisory Board Members

Joel S. Slotnick: Chair of Advisory Board

A 41-year resident, Joel moved to Florida in 1971 from Chicago.  He is the youngest of 3 brothers, one being his twin.  After a 27-year career in the banking industry (where he was an operations manager and Assistant V.P. among other things), Joel is currently a digital court reporter for the State of Florida. Joel has volunteered in Broward County for over 3 decades. Joel has been in ministry for close to 22 years.   He was ordained as a Deacon in 2005 and as a Reverend in 2011.  His passion for ministry has been in worship and also the Pastoral Care area doing home and hospital visits officiating marriages, memorial services, and baptisms. Joel first was involved with Pride South Florida as a volunteer in 1995 and served as Treasurer from 1996-97.  Joel returned to Pride South Florida in 2009 and served as Secretary/Treasurer in 2010 and 2011.

Bryan C. Wilson Ortega:

Bryan Wilson is originally from Odessa, Tx. He currently works as director of training and development for SunServe, a nonprofit serving the gay community from adolescents to seniors. He is getting his Master's degree from UM and enjoys outdoor activities, church, traveling and Fort Lauderdale tourism in his spare time.


John Fugate:

John Fugate is the Marketing Co-Coordinator with Pride South Florida. This is his first year on the board. Outside of Pride South Florida he is the Marketing Director of the South Florida Gay News, National Gay News and national quarterly magazine The Mirror. He’s been with SFGN since its inception in January 2010. Before taking over as Marketing Director he served as the sales manager and distribution manager for the company. In 2008 he graduated from Everest Institute as a Patient Care Technician.

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