NEW PORT RICHEY — Last year’s inaugural Pride Festival was a rousing success, so much so that this year’s gala has been expanded.
The second-annual Pasco Pride Festival will be Oct. 6 in Sims Park, but the celebration kicks off with a number of events held in advance.
Early offerings include a Mister and Miss Pride Pageant (Sept. 29), a screening of the documentary The Lavender Scare (Oct. 3) and an 18-and-up block party (Oct. 5) before the festival in Sims Park.
“Pride is like a whole week this year, but the big event is definitely on Sunday," said Pasco Pride president Nina Borders.
The decision to expand came a year ago, said Borders, a firefighter/paramedic.
“We wanted to have a party side of the event —separate from the family-friendly festival — where people could come out and see how much New Port Richey has grown," she said. “We support the city, so the block party is more of an 18-and-up event to showcase downtown. People can check out all the new restaurants, bars and breweries and mingle and talk to each other.”
The response from local businesses has been fantastic, Borders said. “They’re hiring their own entertainment. Some are planning drink specials and putting up rainbow flags.”
The New Port Richey Cultural affairs committee donated funds to purchase rights to Lavender Scare," Border said, “so they’re really behind us.”
The award-winning documentary, narrated by Glenn Close and based on the book by historian and author David K. Johnson, will be shown Oct. 3 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre. Lavender Scare aired in June on PBS. It depicts the Cold War-era witchhunt of tens of thousands of homosexual federal workers after they were deemed a security risk by then-president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Johnson, a history professor at the University of South Florida, will answer questions after the showing.
The festival on Sunday opens with remarks from guest speakers and Democratic state Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Smith, both of Orlando. Smith is the first openly gay Latino in the Florida Legislature.
“They are phenomenal speakers," Borders said. "They really know how to get the crowds going.”
Mama Ashley Rose of Rose Dynasty Foundation will serve as emcee at the festival. Entertainment includes performances by Mr. Vyn Suazion and Larmani. Back by popular demand is the Spheres Bubble Show.
The “high energy” TC Czaritsa will serve as DJ for the festival and the Saturday night block party. Winners of the Mr. and Miss Pride pageant will also be announced at the festival. There will be local food and beverage vendors and activities for the kids. Windsong Charters will provide free river rides.
The Pasco County Health Department will offer flu and hepatitis vaccines, Borders said. There will information and testing for STDs/HIV/AIDS. A blood mobile will be onsite.
Pasco Pride also will announce a new $1,500 scholarship at the festival, which will be available to 2020 high school graduates.
As with other Pride events, Borders expects push-back from protesters and is prepared for that.
“We sat down with city officials. They came up with a designated protest zone where they can set their signs up and protest, because they have every right to,” she said. “But there will be a strong police presence. We want everyone to feel safe.”
IF YOU GO:
Pasco Pride Festival 2019 events
- Mr. and Miss Pride Pageant, 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at The Asylum, 6153 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey. Registration starts at 5 p.m. and is $100 per contestant. Tickets are $7 online or $10 at the door. For online tickets, click here.
- The Lavender Scare, 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. $10 in advance. Click here for tickets.
- Pasco Pride Block Party, 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5 in Railroad Square (Nebraska Ave., between Grand Boulevard and Adams Street), downtown New Port Richey. Free.
- Second-annual Pasco Pride Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 6 in Sims Park at Grand Boulevard and Main Street, New Port Richey. Free.
Volunteers are needed. Register here, text PRIDEVOLUNTEER to 31996 or email Nina.Borders@pascopridefestival.com.