Well, another year has gone by and the Pride season is upon us again. On Saturday June 18th, the vendors, the alcohol and the partygoers return to the drive like a yearly migration of birds when the seasons change, for their annual exhibition of showing their pride. Wilton Drive will transform itself into the place to be and be seen. You’ll find vendors selling their wares, bars selling their alcohol and attendees cruising up and down the drive. Since the event is held outside, most people will be dressed in normal street wear attire while others will be displaying their favorite holiday frock. The rainbow colors will be showing brightly as they dance and prance along their merry way. A good time will be had by most, if not all, unless Mother Nature decided to rear her ugly head and dampen the spirited event. Everyone will run for cover and pack themselves into the bars, like sardines in a can, while others will stand in the rain looking like a drowned rat. Either way thousands of people will attend to view this annual event.
One of the major events of the Stonewall festivities is the parade that starts at Fort Lauderdale High School area and ends at Five Points, short in distance but long on enthusiasm. Spectators will line the street to view the convertible cars filled with celebrities, the bands playing their music, the groups marching with a message and the floats filled with revelers throwing beads and more. At the 6th Street stage area, the parade will be hosted by none-other-than the comical styling of drag legend Daisy Deadpetals and long-time business owner Victor Zepka, giving their witty take on the parade entries. The two of them have been providing commentary on the event for 10 plus years.
Annually, the pride committee awards prizes to the best entries in different categories. One of them is “Best Float Presentation.” The last three years that category has been won by The Boardwalk Bar, “Were going for number four,” says Scott Laugherty, one of the owners of The Boardwalk. “We came up with a great theme this year and we can’t wait for everyone to see it.” Over the past three years, they have had themes like, Stars of the Drive, the Greek Gods theme featuring Pegasus the flying horse, and last year’s Las Vegas–Our kind of Town. Why Las Vegas you ask? Well the owners of The Boardwalk are looking to expand their concept into the town that never sleeps and may do so in 2017.
The staff is very proud of their accomplishment over the past three years. Believe it or not, they start planning their theme at the beginning of each year. That way they are prepared come June. The float arrives at the storage area a week before and the crew begins to transform a bare canvas into the masterpiece you see come down the drive. One of the yearly designers is Jason, aka Sparkles, who spearheads the construction.
“The design, theme and construction all go hand-in-hand through hours of meticulous planning and attention to detail,” says Jason. “The greatest reward is seeing the smiles and cheers of the community as the float passes by them. Plus I always put a little ‘Sparkle’ on the float to make it shine.” (Laugh) How do they build this, you ask? Once the float is chosen and the theme decided upon, the planning begins. Then the materials are bought and the production of the décor starts. Fabric is sewn into shapes, form core is cut then painted or covered in glitter and the words are printed on banners. The staple guns come out for mounting items, twist ties are used to secure things and the float begins to take shape from top to bottom. The float is then moved from storage to the parking lot on the day of, to add the finishing touches of sparkle and shine. The float riders then get dressed in their costumes, pack their beads for giveaway and hop aboard the float to ride to the parade staging area.
Although The Boardwalk located at 1721 N Andrews Ave Fort Lauderdale FL 33311 is not located of the drive. “It is very important to me to be apart of the community and support our annual pride event,” says owner Victor Zepka. “I am proud of the staff’s success in putting the float together each year.” As you can tell this is no easy task to assemble a float, and it takes hours of time and effort. The Boardwalk has been successful at this task, with three first place awards in a row to show for their accomplishments.
No matter who walks away with this years, Best Float Presentation trophy, you can be assured that the glitz and glamour of all the parade floats will have the look of at least a showmanship’s placement. It takes time, planning and pride to put together a float each year, and that’s always appreciated. No matter what you’re doing for pride this year, have fun, be safe and stand tall. Happy Pride Everyone!