This year the organization is expecting more than 50,000 attendees. (Tampa Pride)
YBOR CITY, FL– Let the rainbow flag wave. The fifth annual Tampa Pride celebration will take to the streets of Ybor City on Saturday, March 30.
According to Tampa Pride community outreach co-chairwoman Nancy Desmond, the daylong Tampa Pride celebration, organized by the LGBTQ community and endorsed by the city of Tampa, is intended to celebrate the community’s diversity and commitment to tolerance.
Not only does this year mark the fifth anniversary of the Tampa Pride celebration, noted Desmond, but it’s also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the catalyst for the gay rights movement.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a riot and led to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street and in nearby Christopher Park.
"So this is a big event for the LGBTQ community," said Desmond who, along with her husband, John, got involved in Tampa Pride as a way to support their gay son.
"Last year, Tampa Pride had about 40,000 attendees," said Desmond.
This year the organization is expecting more than 50,000 attendees.
Tampa Pride Street Festival
The Pride celebration will get underway at 9:45 a.m. with the Tampa Pride Street Festival featuring an arts and crafts show, community health fair and entrepreneurs area.
"We have a health fair where you can get screening for cancer, HIV and all sorts of health information," said Desmond.
The festival will kick off at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor City campus main stage located in the parking lot on the northwest corner of East 8th Avenue and North 15th Street with a performance by the Tampa Bay Pride Band, guest speakers and other entertainment.
"We’ll have musicians, drag queens after drag queens. It’s just going to be going on all day," said Desmond.
Attendees are also invited to explore the various vendors set up in two main areas: East 9th Avenue and East 8th Avenue / the HCC parking lot. The East 9th Avenue area is one block from North 14th Street to North 15th Street and is located north of the HCC main stage. The second area comprises the HCC parking lot area and East 8th Avenue toward Centro Ybor.
There will be a special community tribute at 12:30 p.m. on the Hamburger Mary’s entertainment stage in front of Centro Ybor.
"We’re going to be featuring a tribute to Pulse (nightclub in Orlando where a mass shooting occurred)," said Desmond. "We’ll have our mayors, hopefully, from both Orlando and Tampa"
Tampa Pride Diversity Parade
The Tampa Pride Diversity Parade will begin at 1 p.m.The parade, featuring floats, decorated cars, marching bands and dance troupes, will wind its way east from the corner of Nuccio Parkway and East 7th Avenue down East 7th Avenue to North 20th Street where it will turn north to disperse.
"In our parade, you’re going to see people, particularly youth, marching down the road draped in transgender flags, or Pride flags," she said.
Desmond said some of the marchers are so overwhelmed by the support of the thousands of people cheering for them, they can’t hold back their tears.
"For some of them, this is the one day of the year that they can be authentic," she said.
The street festival will continue after the parade, ending at 5 p.m.
Tampa Pride At Night
Then the celebration will move indoors for Tampa Pride at Night starting at 7:30 p.m. Sponsor bars and restaurants in Ybor City will offer entertainment, food and drink specials.
For information, visit the Tampa Pride website.
Traffic is expected to be heavier than normal on Saturday in and around Ybor City. Drivers and pedestrians alike are advised to allow for extra travel time and to travel through the area with caution.
Street closures around Ybor City begin at 5:30 a.m. The following roads will be affected.
E 8th Avenue between N Avenida Repbulica De Cuba (N 14th Street) and N 17th StreetE 9th Avenue between N Avenida Republica De Cuba (N 14th Street) and N 15th StreetAngel Oliva Senior Street (N 18th Street) between E 7th Avenue and E Palm AvenueN 19th Street between E 7th Avenue and E Palm Avenue
Nick Nuccio Parkway between N Nebraska Avenue and E Palm AveE 7th Avenue between E Scott Street and Nick Nuccio ParkwayE 7th Ave between Nick Nuccio Parkway and N 21st Street
The city of Tampa recommends that motorists use alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion.
To listen to the complete interview with Nancy Desmond by Seán Kinane on WMNF radio, click here.