After more than a decade, Tampa Pride Parade is back
After a 13-year absence, the Tampa Pride Parade will return on Saturday.
Tampa dropped the events right around the time that Hillsborough County put a ban on any public display of gay pride. It was an initiative led by former Commissioner Ronda Storms.
The ban was not repealed until Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough County's first openly gay commissioner, took office.
"I know that the community of Tampa Bay is ready for this, and I know that they're there to support us as well, so fingers crossed, it will be a nice event," said Charley Waters, who is planning to attend the parade on Saturday.
The largest gay pride parade in the state is currently held in St. Petersburg. More than 100,000 people attend every June. Tampa's gay community is hoping to reclaim the celebration.
This year's Tampa Pride parade and festivities will be held in Ybor City from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor will serve as the Grand Marshal, leading the 100-unit parade, along with Kurt King, owner of Hamburg Mary's in Centro Ybor.
Dozens of homes and businesses in Ybor City are flying rainbow-colored flags in support of the parade returning. Many businesses say they plan to offer specials on Saturday, such as $3 rainbow jello shots at The Brass Tap on 7th Avenue.
"We love being part of the community and involving people, so I think it will be a really great turnout," said manager Deb Hargraves. The Brass Tap is also planning to stream live coverage of the parade from its flat screens throughout the bar.
Members of Tampa's gay community say the return of the parade is a victory for equality in the city.
"There's not just black, or white, or pink or gray in the area. There's so much difference in culture and persons in our community, and I think it's great to celebrate everyone," Waters said.