Miami Beach Pride to Be Biggest Yet
Last year, Miami Beach Gay Pride drew 35,000 people, making it the city's largest single-day event. This year, organizers stretched the event out over a weekend, to accommodate the 60,000 people they expect to attend.
The fourth installment of the event will last four days, from Thursday to Sunday, April 12-15. From dance parties to finger foods to fireworks, the four days are packed with things to do and see. The entertainment ranges from music to spoken word, from kids' corners to vodka specials.
And that's the point: The Pride event is a family event, for the LGBT community and for its friends.
"There's sometimes a stigma that it's all about shocking people - just boys in G-strings throwing beads. But Miami Pride has really evolved in a family-oriented event," said Chad Richter, vice president of the Miami Beach Pride. "It's really unveiled into a cultural event for children and families - and it's free. We get all kind of spectators - they get excited and wide-eyed, at how classy our Pride is."
Richter is a founding member of the city's Pride organization, and helped put the first festival together.
"It was special for someone who'd grown up in Miami Beach," Richter said about the first time he walked onto the avenue, watching people putting their floats together, awe-struck by the success of almost a year of planning for the 2008 event. "It was something that was really missing from the city."
That was then. Today, the event draws tons of sponsors and thousands of attendees from around the country. On Sunday, the day of the parade, three stages will host music and lectures, in an effort to make everyone happy.
Laura Veitia, secretary for the Miami Beach Pride's executive board, is chair of the parade committee. She said that there'll be three distinctive highlights this year, emphasizing that all of the programming is unique and exciting otherwise. First, the parade will highlight legacy couples, or LGBT couples that have been together more than twenty years. There are 53 of them with the oldest having been together for 68 years (for a list of all legacy couples, see side bar). The couples will ride in two consecutive floats.
"Without the legal right, these people have been together for many years," Veitia said. "For some, you're talking about couple who met in the '40s, and were able to stay together since then, and that's something to really celebrate."
The second highlight is the awards ceremony. An award will be given to the best parade participant, of which there are 42, ranging from motorcycle groups to walking groups. The best entry will be creative and original with its concept, will engage the audience and will embody the Pride spirit. The parade itself will run on Sunday, from noon to 2 p.m., along Ocean Drive, from 7th street to 15th street. The city will close down the road for the parade.
"We're hoping to do these over the years, adding names to the plaque at the Visitor's Center," Veitia said. "The parade is a way we can highlight all of the organizations that are in our community. It brings the community together."
Another highlight for Veitia is the 1 p.m. moment of silence, she said, "to observe, to think about, people that we've lost through AIDS, that've served our country, that've been bullied and committed suicide."
"The parade and the festival itself really is for everyone. Besides the LGBT community, it's really open to everyone - come out and have a great time, it's really here for everyone," Veitia concluded. "No matter who you are, and where you live, we are behind you and support you."
Visit MiamiBeachGayPride.com for more information.