Record crowds attend Pride Fort Lauderdale

Besi Besemar March 3, 2019

Four-day festival celebrating Pride on the beach, Florida style includes Fort Lauderdale’s first-ever parade.

Pride Fort Lauderdale Parade on Fort Lauderdale Beach at junction with Las Olas Boulevard
Pride Fort Lauderdale Parade on Fort Lauderdale Beach at junction with Las Olas Boulevard

MORE than 120,000 visitors from the U.S. and beyond experienced the 42nd annual Pride Fort Lauderdale festival, which took place from Thursday, February 21 through Sunday, February 24 in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Richard Gray
Richard Gray

The carnaval-themed festival included the first parade ever held along iconic Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Richard Gray, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said; “Greater Fort Lauderdale is a very welcoming destination, and I’m so proud of our community and hospitality industry for embracing diversity and inclusion and showing our local residents and visitors how welcomed they are here during Pride Fort Lauderdale and year-round” 

The sights and sounds of the Caribbean and Brazil came alive throughout the festival as the 2019 Carnaval theme paid tribute to the diverse ethnic communities that call Greater Fort Lauderdale home and to the Mardi Gras/Carnaval season.

The Pride celebrations started with an all-star fashion show at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood on Thursday, February 21. Hosted by fashion guru Carson Kressley of Queer Eye and Fashion Police and RuPaul’s Drag Race all-star Naomi Smalls, the show attracted nearly 1,000 fashionistas.

The central attraction of this years celebration was the first ever Pride Fort Lauderdale parade on Saturday, February. 23, attracting more than 50,000 people to the beach to see one of the notable parade grand marshals Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a transgender activist who was in the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, during the historic 1969 police raid that sparked the modern LGBT+ rights movement. WWE superstar and E! Total Divas cast member Sonya Deville was featured on a float. Singers Pepper MaShay and Deborah Cooper performed on the Trans Pride and Pride of the Americas floats.

Winners of the parade included: Dillard High School, marching band; Flockfest, walking group; Wilton Manors Police Department, decorated vehicle; iHeart Media / 93.9 MIA, float; and Trans Pride, best interpretation of Carnaval theme. Judges included Stacy Ritter, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Ina Lee, Travelhost Media Group; Norm Kent, South Florida Gay News; and Rod Hagwood, South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The festival concluded on Sunday, February. 24 with the traditional Pride Fort Lauderdale beach party. American Idol fan favourite c, who also made history as the first drag queen to advance to the final 10 contestants, and singer, choreographer and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Todrick Hall headlined the Sunday activities which attracted 50,000 back to the beach for the closing of this festival.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been proactively targeting and welcoming the LGBT+ market since 1996, when it became the first Convention & Visitors Bureau with a gay-centric vacation planner, and dedicated website on a CVB homepage.

Since then, the destination has continued to break down barriers and facilitate essential visibility for the LGBT+ community at large.

Fort Lauderdale now welcomes 1.5 million LGBT+ travellers annually, spending $1.5 billion. It also features one of the largest Pride Centers in the country, the first and only World AIDS Museum and Education Center, and is home to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives, one of the only permanent spaces in the U.S. devoted to exhibitions relating to LGBT+ history and culture.

Most recently, Greater Fort Lauderdale opened the areas first LGBT+ Visitors Center in Wilton Manors.

Trip Advisor have ranked Fort Lauderdale beach as the #9 Beach in the US. #GreaterTogether