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Live Coverage: St. Pete Pride

Check out our live blog for weather updates, parking info and the latest happenings.
CHRIS URSO  |  Times
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman waves as he makes his way to the parade route for the beginning of the St. Pete Pride Parade Saturday, June  23, 2018 in St. Petersburg.
CHRIS URSO | Times St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman waves as he makes his way to the parade route for the beginning of the St. Pete Pride Parade Saturday, June 23, 2018 in St. Petersburg.
Published Jun. 23, 2018
Updated Jun. 24, 2018

Hold onto your beads — Florida’s largest LGBTQ celebration kicks off Friday. The rainbow flag has been raised and marchers are ready to strut in the 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade. Stay tuned with the Tampa Bay Times’ live coverage for all things Pride this weekend. Don’t forget to keep up with the happenings on our Twitter and Instagram too.

MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times
From left: Julie Audio, 17, Bina Scalis, 17, Alizey Caceres, 19 take a selfie at Pride celebrations in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times From left: Julie Audio, 17, Bina Scalis, 17, Alizey Caceres, 19 take a selfie at Pride celebrations in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.

Pride Weekend Schedule

Saturday

  • St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride’s popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7:15 p.m. Free. North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 342-0084. 2-10 p.m. 
  • TransPride March: A gathering of members of the transgender, gender non-conforming, queer communities and their families, friends and supporters. The first 500 registered marchers receive a free St. Pete Pride TransPride T-shirt. Free. Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 342-0084. 7-7:30 p.m. 
  • Pride Rooftop Disco: Renowned bearded drag queen Adriana Sparkle serves as host for this rooftop St. Pete Pride pre-parade party with dancing to music by Chicago’s DJ Mystic Bill, legendary New York DJ Richard Vasquez and Salt Lake City’s DJ Jesse Walker. Benefits the Metro Center. $20-$30, $75 VIP. Station House, 260 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 895-8260. 12-7 p.m. 
  • Pride on Edge: A pop-up gay bar and nightclub experience hits the Edge District bringing music, lights, DJ dancing, drinks and entertainment. Benefits Metro Wellness and Community Center. Free (registration required). OpenHouse, 1113 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (202) 510-7377. 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, noon-3 a.m.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times
Courtney Boss, 25 from Jacksonville travelled just for  Pride celebrations in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times Courtney Boss, 25 from Jacksonville travelled just for Pride celebrations in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.

Sunday

  • Dannie: Dannie The Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project present the musical parody as part of St. Pete Pride. All proceeds benefit Metro Wellness and Community Centers. $20, $35 VIP. American Stage Theatre Company at Raymond James Theater, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-7529. 7 p.m.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times
Cyclers in the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times Cyclers in the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.

Live updates: sights, sounds and stories of Pride

5 p.m.

Pride is an excuse to dress outrageously — and celebrate who you are, according to Rowan Clarke and Ash Athey.

Both Clarke and Athey went with makeup-inspired looks. Clarke described hers as a “cross between 80s punk demon versus goddess.”

The two came not only to have a good time and hang out with friends, but to support and represent the community.

“I feel like I’m with my family. Everyone is really nice, really accepting,” Clarke said.

Athey added that regardless if someone is a member of the LGBTQ community, or just an ally, Pride is filled with accepting individuals willing to embrace the gay community.

Athey said that events like this are important to the community because they remind people that “it’s OK to be different.” She also said that they can help create a sense of support for people struggling to come out to their families.

“The more people know it’s OK to be yourself, the better off we are,” Clarke said.

Rowan Clarke, left,  and Ash Athey came to support the community. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]
Rowan Clarke, left, and Ash Athey came to support the community. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]

4:44 p.m.

The feeling of acceptance will always be greater at Pride, St. Petersburg resident Samantha Wolfkill said.

The 26 year old comes every year and usually walks in the parade. But this year she’s taking a step back to really take it all in.

“Our community has fought so hard for this and it’s a time to celebrate and embrace one another,” she said.

Samantha Wolfkill, sporting a rainbow mohawk, attends the St. Pete Pride Parade Saturday. She looks forward to the event every year. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]
Samantha Wolfkill, sporting a rainbow mohawk, attends the St. Pete Pride Parade Saturday. She looks forward to the event every year. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]

3:21 p.m.

Mariah Woessner, 26, of Orlando, was hesitant to come to Pride.

She has a lot going on and her anxiety was starting to flare up. It just seemed like another thing to deal with.

But then she thought about how her friend who invited her would feel.

“I couldn’t disappoint her. She’s my best friend. I jokingly call her my wife but I swear we’re going to get married one day,” Woessner said.

So, she pulled herself together and pushed outside her comfort zone to make the trek from Orlando.

And she’s happy she did.

“When you’re not here, you forget how you love it,” she said. “When you’re at Pride, you just forget about the bad or anything going on on your life and just have fun and feel accepted.”

TAILYR IRVINE   |   Times 
Julian Gonzalez, 8, of Hudson, FL, reaches for necklaces thrown into the crowd during the 2018 St. Pete Pride Parade down Bayshore Drive on Saturday, June 23.
TAILYR IRVINE | Times Julian Gonzalez, 8, of Hudson, FL, reaches for necklaces thrown into the crowd during the 2018 St. Pete Pride Parade down Bayshore Drive on Saturday, June 23.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times
Crowds celebrate during the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times Crowds celebrate during the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times
Beads for parade watchers during the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times Beads for parade watchers during the Pride parade in St. Petersburg on June 23, 2018.

Chris Gardner was never ashamed of being gay, per se. He just didn’t broadcast it.

He didn’t hold hands or embrace his significant other in public. But over the past 16 years, that’s changed.

Gardner has attended St. Pete Pride since it began. He’s seen it blossom into the largest Pride event in the Southeast. He’s seen it transform the gay community and transform himself, he said.

Gardener and his husband of 10 years don’t second guess themselves walking hand in hand down the street anymore.

“I’m literally proud,” Gardner said. “I’m proud to be married to a man. And Pride has done that.”

Chris Gardner, 55 from St. Pete, is working this weekend, as he does at every Pride, at the Epic Empath Partners and Care HIV Services van. He's helping educate people about the disease and encourage them to get tested. He said about 40-50 a day do it throughout the weekend. "It's not just a gay disease, everyone who has sex should get tested," he said. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]
Chris Gardner, 55 from St. Pete, is working this weekend, as he does at every Pride, at the Epic Empath Partners and Care HIV Services van. He's helping educate people about the disease and encourage them to get tested. He said about 40-50 a day do it throughout the weekend. "It's not just a gay disease, everyone who has sex should get tested," he said. [McKenna Oxenden | Tampa Bay Times]

2 p.m. Saturday, Central Ave.

Kevin Raike doesn’t remember last year’s Pride. He was in the hospital. His organs had started shutting down.

Doctors eventually removed more than 67 pounds of excess fluid from his body, Raike, 52, said. They told him his kidney disorder would kill him, but they didn’t know when. He and his spouse, Kevin Back, went to Kentucky, where they’re both from, so he could say goodbye to family and friends.

A year later, Raike sleeps in a hospital bed and Back in the recliner next to him. Their lives have changed, but so much has. The world is a different place than the one Raike came out to 41 years ago. And he’s still here.

After all of it, he says, he feels free.

Raike, left, 52, and Back, 56, of Lakeland. [Jack Evans | Tampa Bay Times]
Raike, left, 52, and Back, 56, of Lakeland. [Jack Evans | Tampa Bay Times]

1:06 p.m. Saturday, Central Ave.

Inside Buku Tattoo Studio, 33-year-old Andrew Richards was giving his last tattoo of the day.

Sunday, when the street fair takes over this strip of Central Avenue, the shop would be slammed, Richards, who is gay, guessed. That was the norm, “being in the Gayborhood,” he said. But soon, he’d take the rest of the day off and head to the parade.

The constant barrage of news over the past two years might darken the mood slightly, he said. But he didn’t think it would hamper the celebration “for how far we’ve come.”

“There are still people who don’t accept it,” he said, and jerked his gloved thumb at the spot across the street where an anti-gay protester had just stood. “It gives us a chance to stand our ground.”

12:45 p.m. Saturday, Central Ave.

Outside Old Key West Bar & Grill, the artist Lady Galaxy surveyed a kaleidoscope of spray paint cans.

Galaxy — government name: Nikki Sunderland — said the art, pieces of which take her three to eight minutes to complete, reflects her distaste with boundaries and boxes.

Though she’s dated people of different genders, she doesn’t put a label on her sexuality. Her mother identified as a lesbian, she said, but Sunderland later found out how limiting she found the word.

Sunderland grew up going to pride festivities with her mother, and though she said she’s still sad about the parade’s move from the Grand Central District to the downtown waterfront, she’s still excited to use her art as a gateway to get to know passers-by.

“I paint their soul,” she said. “Ninety percent of the time, I hit it.”

Parade info: What you need to know

Saturday’s Pride festivities start at 2 pm and the parade kicks off at 7 pm. The parade runs down Bayshore Drive.

[Courtesy of St. Pete Pride]
[Courtesy of St. Pete Pride]

Parking options:

PSTA also has several free pickup routes available. Check out St. Pete Pride’s PSTA Transportation map for more details.

Weather

Saturday could bring slight showers hitting the coast in the morning and moving further east by the afternoon. Temperatures will remain around 90 and feel even hotter. Bring an umbrella for scattered showers and isolated storms while attending the St. Pete Pride festivities. Rain should dry up by the evening, so many of the night events will be a bit drier.

On Sunday, rain chances will increase to around 60 percent as a body of high pressure reaches into southwest Florida. Expect the day to be mostly cloudy with frequent scattered showers and isolated storms.

CHRIS URSO  |  Times
The St. Pete Pride parade makes its way along Bayshore Boulevard Saturday, June  23, 2018 in St. Petersburg.
CHRIS URSO | Times The St. Pete Pride parade makes its way along Bayshore Boulevard Saturday, June 23, 2018 in St. Petersburg.

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