Tampa’s annual Pride Diversity Parade returns Saturday, the first street parade in our area since the pandemic put a stop to large-scale celebrations.
The parade and festival were postponed three times since March of 2020. But the city finally gave the event a green light for a daylong street festival in Ybor City and a Night of Pride concert at the Cuban Club.
Carrie West, president of Tampa Pride, said he is expecting about 40,000 people to attend, slightly less than attended the last big Pride gathering in Tampa in 2019. All vendor spots are sold out, as are the VIP tickets for the Night of Pride, so he thinks excitement is high.
“A good majority of the people have gotten their vaccine and should feel better about this,” he said.
The Tampa Pride parade will be the first Pride festival held in the United States post pandemic, according to the event’s website.
Saturday brings a street festival to Ybor City with local vendors, a craft show, a wellness fair, a food alley, and nighttime entertainment at the Cuban Club’s outdoor courtyard. Singer Pepper Mashay and Jay Miah are set to perform, and the headliner is singer Martha Wash performing It’s Raining Men.
It all begins at 11 a.m., with vendors located in two main areas: E Ninth Avenue at N 13th through 15th streets, and two blocks away in the Hillsborough Community College parking lot.
New this year will be a food alley, with trucks and carts on 14th Street between Ninth Avenue and Palm Avenue open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
The parade will start at 4 p.m. in front of Centro Ybor with a special community tribute. Featuring marching units, bands and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, the parade will wind its way east from the corner of Nuccio Parkway and E Seventh Avenue to N 20th Street.
Live music and entertainment will follow the parade at the Cuban Club, 2010 14th Ave.
Tampa’s LGBTQ community has long been haunted by the years when it was official Hillsborough County policy to “abstain from acknowledging, promoting or participating in Gay Pride recognition and events.”
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It took eight years before the County Commission, which by then counted openly gay Kevin Beckner as a member, voted unanimously to repeal the ban in 2013. Two years later, the city held its first Pride Diversity Festival.
The main stage for the festival will be in the Cuban Club courtyard, with the Tampa Bay Pride Band playing at 10:45 a.m., followed by guest speakers and featured entertainment. There is no cover for those over 21 for the Night of Pride activities at the Cuban Club, and it is $5 for age 18-20.