by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
Ready for Pride? While our event is still in the planning stages, organizers at the opposite corner of the country, Miami Beach, are just about set for their big show.
In its eighth year, Miami Beach Gay Pride is prepared to welcome 130,000 people from throughout South Florida, nearby states of Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas, plus many other parts of North America and the world, as the tropical city has become a scorching hot tourist destination that draws visitors from nearly everywhere, especially Europe and Latin America.
Rap/pop star Iggy Azalea will appear at the event as the guest of honor, joining host Elvis Duran on his float during the parade and both will serve as emcees for a VIP fundraiser prior to the parade.
'It's such an important day to celebrate with my LGBTQ fans,' Azalea said in a statement to People magazine, 'and I can't wait to see my Azaleans there!'
The main festivities will be staged between April 8 and 10, but a weeklong series of events begins on April 4 with the Rainbow Flag being raised at City Hall (1700 Convention Drive), where the public is invited to watch with local officials. Later that evening, just blocks away, the Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2016 and Silent Auction will take place at Score Nightclub (1437 Washington Avenue). The pageant and auction is a FUNdraiser for Miami Beach Gay Pride honoring Athena Dion, Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2015. Besides the crown and title, the pageant winner will take home $1,000 in cash + $1,000 in prizes.
There are many other events leading up to the weekend, such as Spotlight: Mega Mixer on April 5 at the Shore Club South Beach (1901 Collins Avenue), hosted by the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MGDLCC) that joins over 200 Chamber members, guests, visitors and the community at large. This is followed on April 6 by The City of Miami Beach Opening Pride Ceremony highlighted by the installation by a city-sponsored rainbow sign topper that marks the celebration of Gay pride and diversity. On April 8, a Pride Kick-Off Reception at the W South Beach's Outdoor Wet Deck Gardens (2201 Collins Avenue), the host hotel for this year's Pride festivities, offers an additional opportunity to schmooze with party-minded folks after posing for pics on the red carpet.
Last year, the parade featured more than 65 contingencies, including 35 floats and 2,700 participants. According to Dave Cook, Executive Director of Miami Beach Gay Pride, the allotted slots to march in this year's parade has reached its maximum and all vendor booths for the festival are sold out.
Coca Cola, University of Miami, South Florida Pride Marching Band, Miami Beach Fire Rescue, Florida International University, Equality Florida, Miami Beach Community Church and the National LGBTQ Task Force were just some of 2015's participants. Also taking part in the parade a year ago was Saved By the Bell' actor and Grand Marshal Mario Lopez, who gladly waved to fans lining both sides of Ocean Drive while sitting atop a convertible.
This year's parade, slated for Sunday, April 10, will begin at 12 noon and will travel the same route as in previous years, the length of Ocean Drive along the famed Art Deco district, used as a background in everything from major advertising campaigns to Hollywood movies - The Birdcage, anyone?
On Saturday and Sunday, the 9th and 10th, everyone is invited to Lummus Park, sandwiched between Ocean Drive and the beach, for a coinciding festival that boasts a Beach Party on Saturday with international DJs, entertainers, exhibitors and cash bars with refreshments, and then continues Sunday with booths, food and drinks, family-friendly 'Fun Zone,' celebrity performers and local artists that will appear on multiple stages.
If you didn't already know, Miami Beach is its own city that runs 9 miles long and 1 mile wide, detached from the mainland, but accessible by several bridges. It is the former home of cultural visionaries Leonard Horowitz, who played an integral part in introducing the art deco style to the local architecture, and fashion icon Gianni Versace. It is the current home to 90,000 residents.
Should you happen to be in the Miami area next weekend, or want to go on a mileage run, or perhaps redeem miles, definitely plan on attending Miami Beach Gay Pride (miamibeachgaypride.com). Whether you go now or at a later time, I personally recommend Hotel Gaythering (gaythering.com), a Gay hotel geared more for young solo travelers and those on a modest budget, or The Betsy - South Beach (thebetsyhotel.com), an upscale property with a fabulous rooftop terrace, amazing restaurant (BLT Steak Miami) and prime location, situated conveniently on Ocean Drive.
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