Photo via cityofstpete/Flickr
St. Pete Pride Weekend 2014
We were on such a short time frame, having a community meeting in late February of 2003, and starting essentially from zero. People of all backgrounds jumped in and provided expertise in marketing, sponsorship, parade planning, and vendor management. We were planning on maybe 100 people participating in the newly named Promenade.
It wasn’t a parade or a march, but free for anyone to participate. It started in Historic Kenwood in front of the old Georgie's Alibi which had become a fixture in the community as a bar and restaurant.
The promenade wound through Historic Kenwood and then on to Central Avenue heading East towards the Street Festival in the 2400 and 2500 blocks of Central. About 50 vendors lined the two blocks as the parade and large 400 foot rainbow flag was unfurled. With no experience to go on, and no social media (pre-Facebook) to help gauge the response we were expecting maybe 2,000-2,500 people to show up.
Throughout the day people kept arriving and swamping the few bars and restaurants in the Grand Central District. All told an estimated 10,000 attended the inaugural event, and we knew we had a good model for success. Free to attend, affordable for small business to participate, and sponsors to cover the costs.
Attendance doubled almost every year to quickly become the largest Pride celebration in Florida by 2007. In 2007 representatives from St. Pete Pride attended the InterPride conference in Zurich Switzerland and won the right to host InterPride 2009. St Pete Pride had become a model for many other Pride organizations by focusing on local support and inclusive policies. Our Mayor at the time was conservative, but didn’t seem to mind as long as the events were in the Grand Central District.