ST. PETERSBURG —For his fifth time as mayor, Rick Kriseman raised the rainbow flag outside City Hall Thursday morning as the sun beat down on the crowd of supporters.
Kriseman said this year "feels a little extra special" following his re-election this past year.
"One of the reasons I fought so hard, and we all fought so hard, was that I was determined to keep this new tradition going," Kriseman said. "And to ensure that Pride weekend remained both a successful event and an event that was fully embraced by both sides of City Hall."
Friday kicks off St. Pete Pride, which is billed as the largest Pride celebration in Florida and is now in its 16th year.
Kriseman was joined by St. Pete Pride Executive Director Luke Blankenship and city council members Gina Driscoll, Amy Foster, Brandi Gabbard, Charlie Gerdes and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman. Cole Foust, the LGBTQ+ Youth and Transgender program Coordinator at Metro Wellness and Community Centers, also addressed the crowd.
Foust came out as a transgender man last year and a gay man this month.
"I really value the space that the city of St. Petersburg provides for people to grow and blossom into their true selves," Foust said. "I can't thank each of you enough for showing up in this way. And I hope we all will continue to take responsibility for supporting and loving those around us."
The weekend starts with a free concert from Friday in North Straub Park, followed by the parade downtown Saturday and the street festival in the Grand Central District Sunday.