Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg streets joyfully swamped by gay pride parade

ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Clifford arrived on the corner of Third Avenue and 30th Street N early Saturday morning determined, despite occasional showers, to let no rain fall on his parade.

Wearing a large-brimmed hat adorned with black-and-white ostrich feathers, Clifford carried a jumbo umbrella studded with rhinestones and iridescent stickers. Atop the umbrella was an American flag, its white stripes brightened with rainbow colors.

"I'm here to show my support for the gay community," said Clifford, 47. "I'm out and I'm open. I have nothing to hide, and I don't care what people think."

He and his partner of 29 years, Tom Hlinko, 48, were attending their seventh St. Pete Pride Promenade and Street Festival. Together, they've watched what began as a modest effort to showcase gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses blossom into a colorful, raucous event billed as the largest celebration of gay pride in the state.

Saturday's festivities came at the end of a monthlong party that included a comedy festival, a cruise and an auction. Parade co-chairman Jeff Klein said he expected this year's turnout, estimated at 80,000, to top last year's, since the event coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village.

In June 1969, police raided a gay bar, and patrons fought back. The next year, about 5,000 people marched in New York City, marking the first pride celebration.

"This goes to show that we all can get along for one day," Klein said, eyeing the floats as they lined up along the parade route. "It gives you a glimpse of what could be."

More than 120 entries took off from the staging area just after 10 a.m. and headed east on Third Avenue N through the city's Kenwood neighborhood. Among them: the Florida Gay Rodeo Association, a group of lasso-wielding men wearing Stetson hats and cowboy boots, and the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, a platoon of flag-twirling men dressed in red sleeveless shirts, camouflage-patterned shorts and black, high-top sneakers.

The Florida Gulf Coast Couples also marched, supporting a big balloon arch in hues from lavender to red. Same-sex couples carried signs indicating how many years they've been together: 3 years, 20 years, 32 years.

Along the parade route, Danielle Winkler cheered and held her hands out for beads. Winkler, 18, wearing sunglasses with rainbow-colored frames, said she was there to support her friends who are gay.

Noah Johnson, 17, said he had come to show his pride for St. Petersburg and the gay community. And Jordan Krakik, 17, who shattered his heel last week in a swimming accident, said he worried that he might have to miss this year's event.

"It would have been sad because this is really fun," said Krakik, who sported a rainbow-colored bandana on the cast on his left leg.

The parade turned right onto 31st Street, then left onto Central Avenue, passing vendors selling T-shirts, jewelry and artwork, and crowds of people four rows deep.

Off to one side, a group of protesters waved signs and screamed through bullhorns. Paradegoers ignored them.

"Everyone has the right to express their feelings," said Clifford, still carrying his big umbrella. "You just can't please everyone all the time. But you know what? Knowing that makes life easier sometimes."

Donna Winchester can be reached at winchester@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8413.

By the numbers

80,000
approximate number of event attendees

2,000
approximate number of parade participants

120 number of
parade entries

230+ number of
street vendors

St. Petersburg streets joyfully swamped by gay pride parade 06/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Long before Trump hired (and fired) him, Steve Bannon was making deals and kindling political fires in Florida

    Blogs

    With Steve Bannon leaving the White House soon, we're re-posting this Leary-Smith look at Bannon's significant, if mysterious, Florida ties.

    Steve Bannon’s voter registration from August 2016 shows he moved from Miami to Nokomis in Sarasota County.
  2. Rick Baker won't recuse himself from city business with his current boss Bill Edwards

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — If Rick Baker is elected mayor, he said he will not recuse himself from any city business involving his current boss, businessman Bill Edwards.

    Rick Baker and Bill Edwards listen to NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson during a press conference at the Mahaffey Theater in 2013 announcing that Edwards was the team's new owner. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]


  3. Spooky Empire brings Spooky Day in the Parks to Disney World

    Blogs

    Foolish mortals, evil queens and hook-handed pirates finally get their own day this year at Walt Disney World.

    Spooky Day in the Parks comes to Disney World Sept. 22-24.
  4. New York Times: Trump tells aides he has decide to remove Steve Bannon

    National

    President Donald Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Trump win the 2016 election, the New York Times reports, citing two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon steps off Air Force One as he arrives Sunday at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Bannon was with President Donald Trump on his return trip from Florida. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  5. The weeks' most compelling photos from Tampa Bay and Florida

    Human Interest

    Florida photos of the week for August 11 - August 18: Beach family yoga, Confederate symbols as flashpoints, American Idol winners and hopefuls, Fetish Con, the second oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack turns 104, an armada of rubber ducks, and more.

    Jayden Sheene, 8, left, and Zoey Sheene, 6, rest atop at the arms and legs of their mother, Shelby Sheene, 27, of Holiday, while participating in a Beach Family Yoga gathering on Tuesday (8/15/17) at the Dunedin Causeway. The donation-based classes, hosted each Tuesday (10am), near the Sail Honeymoon rentals, were organized by area moms who wanted to practice yoga while providing an opportunity bond with their children through the spiritual and physical contact of the practice, which has its roots in ancient India. Yoga uses breathing techniques, poses and meditation to help improve health and happiness. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times)