St. Pete Pride parade is moving to the waterfront, but Grand Central is keeping the party going
ST. PETERSBURG — The city’s annual Pride parade is moving downtown. But the other festivities are staying put in Grand Central, the funky neighborhood where Florida’s largest LGBT parade was born in 2003.
That’s according to the tentative compromise brokered by Mayor Rick Kriseman this week.
The St. Pete Pride parade will move from its old route through the Kenwood and Grand Central neighborhoods and relocate to Bayshore Drive NE.
The June 24 parade will start at Albert Whitted Park and then run about a mile north to Vinoy Park along the downtown waterfront.
Meanwhile the food, crafts, music and other street festival aspects of the Pride event will remain along Central Avenue N in the Grand Central and Kenwood districts, a few miles west of the parade route.
“I think everyone is in a happy place right now,” said the mayor’s chief of staff, Kevin King, on Friday.
The mayor has met with Grand Central business owners and they’re on board with the proposal, King said, the details of which are still being negotiated.
Former city council member Jeff Danner, a resident of neighboring Kenwood, was a vocal critic of the Pride board’s decision last month to move the parade to the waterfront, saying that it should remain in the neighborhoods that nurtured it.
On Friday, Danner said he could live with the new arrangement.
“It’s a pretty decent compromise,” he said.
When word first surfaced of Pride’s plan to move, Kriseman said he would withhold the $45,000 of in-kind security services provided by the city. But a still “fluid” plan would restore much of that funding, King said.
St. Pete Pride executive director Eric Skains, said the group is excited to have an agreement in place to have the parade along the city’s waterfront while keeping the food, craft and other festival activities in the event’s historic home.
“It’ll be a little more time consuming because it’s two different locations,” he said, “but in the end, it’s worth it.”
Last year, about 220,000 people attended the parade, about half of whom hailed from outside Pinellas County. The 2016 parade also honored the 49 people who were killed in a terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando just days earlier.
Last year’s Pride weekend generated $22.3 million, according to a research study.
Pride officials have said that the waterfront location will offer more space and shade to the crowds on June 24, often a sweltering day.
The route, bounded to the east by water, will also be more secure, also a concern of Pride’s organizers who cited recent terrorist attacks as one of the reasons for switching parade routes.
Contact Charlie Frago at email@example.com or (727)893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.