Cover Story News

Full of Surprises: Stonewall Pride 2016

Written by Richard Hack

WILTON MANORS—Plans are quickly falling into place for this year’s Stonewall Parade & Street Festival, which returns to Wilton Drive on Saturday June 18th.

The event’s organizers exposed details of their plans at a meeting held last week at the Hagen Park Community Center with Wilton Manors City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson and Wilton Manors Entertainment Group (WMEG) executive director Jeffrey Sterling. The Stonewall Parade & Street Festival is now in its 18th year.

This year’s event will feature five stages (an increase of two) on the Drive, with liquor and beverage sponsorships supported by the various LGBT clubs and bars along the popular parade route. Each of the five stages will be individually sponsored, with the rights to select entertainment, sound and lighting remaining with the sponsors. In previous years, the stage were coordinated by the WMEG.

New this year will be Stonewall Village, an interactive area at Hagen Park, which will highlight LGBT cultural and historic achievements, offer a family area with activities and refreshments, and enhance the daytime schedule for festivalgoers. The Village will open at 11 am and continue until 3 pm in the afternoon, when the focus will move onto the Drive proper.

At 3 pm, the various booths and stands will open for business along the Drive, where an estimated 50,000 guests are expected. The Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade is slated to begin 6 pm, followed by a street party well into the night.

“The level of enthusiasm and the passion of these individuals and community leaders is exciting,” offered WMEG executive director Jeffrey Sterling. “It means that the public cares about making this a successful and meaningful event, from top to bottom.”

Sterling said that they planning for the 2016 festival was proceeding at a smooth and organized pace. He also noted that IDK Event Productions, which produces several major LGBT events across the country, including San Francisco Pride and Oakland (California) Pride, has been secured to assist with festival operations and vendor coordination.

In addition to the Festival and Parade, other events will unfold during the Pride month of June including the Matthew Shepard musical drama “Not in My Town,” on June 17, at Sunshine Cathedral, and educational and cultural programs to be hosted at the Stonewall National Museum and Archives.

Patrick Volkert and Mark Hunter, the owners of Hunters Nightclub in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, were among several bar owners and restaurateurs who attended to listen, and to offer their opinions and perspective.

“It’s very important for this community,” said Volkert. “The business owners and the public need to work together to help make this a success for everyone.”