St. Pete Pride, 6/25/2016

Photographer Chip Weiner caught all of the fun, craziness, passion, love and, yes, pride of this year's night parade.


Pride 2016 flag

As the sun set the parade got crankin' with the traditional carrying of the rainbow flag down Central Avenue in St Petersburg.

Chip Weiner

St Pete Pride is fun. It’s always fun. For the last six years I have photographed the festival and found it awesome. It is so much different from other assignments like the Gasparilla parade in Tampa where attendees are aggressive and ofttimes downright mean in their drunken stupor. Pride people are there to celebrate one another and everyone seems to remember the notions of respect and acceptance.

Yet this year St Pete Pride was different. It was more dynamic. There was the expected jubilation that comes with the annual LGBT celebration. But it was counterbalanced as the parade started and the crowd grew silent with somber moments when stark reminders of what happened in Orlando two weeks ago at the Pulse Night Club walked the parade route. The celebration paused to draw a collective sigh as the names and pictures of those lost in the night club attack passed by. It was touching. It was awe inspiring. It was Pride.

A walking memorial for Orlando shootings began the parade with individual signs honoring those who died.

Chip Weiner

There was also a significant increase in Law Enforcement presence. Sheriff’s deputies from both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, Military police, and St Petersburg police were all there en masse. The Pinellas County helicopter circled the celebration and there were at least 3 eye-in-the-sky towers occupied by officers scoping the festivities with binoculars and cameras.

Chip Weiner

Every year street preachers show up and use a bullhorn to condemn the celebration with their signs addressing “Homos and Lesbos”. This year there was more push back. They were joined by Pride attendees with signs of their own saying things like “Jesus loves all boners”, “Promiscuity is awesome”, and “Spread the love”.

Proselytizers are part of the mix every year, condemning Pride goers and arguing scripture with those who take the time to engage.

Chip Weiner

There were those who thought maybe all the preachers needed was a little love.

Chip Weiner

The party began earlier in the day in many clubs along the parade route. The thumping of music permeated Central Ave, while alcohol flowed freely from taps and bottles inside. Support for the recent tragedy was everywhere, with free t-shirts saying, “We Are Orlando” being worn by thousands.

The foam party at Old Key West Bar & Grill.

Chip Weiner

A pre-parade dance party broke out at the Wells Fargo stage.

Chip Weiner

Italia Diaz came to St Pete Pride from Orlando to show her support.

Chip Weiner

There was a second tribute to the 49 people who died in the attack two weeks ago. As photographs of the victims passed, the crowd grew silent, followed by gentle applause for the effort to honor those lost in the attack.

A second memorial featured the names and photographs of those who died in the Orlando tragedy

Chip Weiner

While the parade may have had mellower moments, St Pete still knows how to party. Here's what happened after the sun went down.

Pride 2016 Balloon Hats

Chip Weiner

pride 2016 drum corps

Chip Weiner

pride 2016 velocipede

Chip Weiner

pride 2016 hillary effigy

Chip Weiner

Pride 2016 top had eddie

Chip Weiner

Pride 2016 photo op

Chip Weiner

Pride 2016

For some extra dough you can have a seat in the Glamstands.

Chip Weiner

Chip Weiner