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Last year, Manatee County, just south of Tampa, held their first-ever gay pride celebration. Prism Youth Initiative, a non-profit group which serves the needs of LGBT young people ages 13-23, organized the event and expected 500 people to show up. In the end, three times as many people showed up, making Manatee’s gay pride a complete success. This year, they hope to welcome even more revelers, surpassing the records they saw at their inaugural event. The second annual Manatee Pride will be held on Saturday, March 21 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Bradenton Riverwalk (808 3rd Avenue W., Bradenton).Manatee_copy1

Admission to the festivities is free and the pride festival will include live entertainment such as headliner Serena ChaCha from season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race and guest performers TP Lords and Calypso Monroe. It will also feature great local music artists, a DJ set by Billboard Magazine reporting DJ Greg Anderson, dozens of vendors, food trucks and beverage carts. Last year, high demand overwhelmed the food trucks, and we’ve heard that there will be many more trucks this year to keep everyone well-fed and happy. After the event is over, Throb Entertainment Complex (2201 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota) will be hosting an after party.

While admission to the event doesn’t cost anything, all proceeds raised by vendors will be donated to the Prism Youth Initiative, whose goal is to provide services, support, counseling, and safe spaces for the LGBTQ youth aged 13-23 in Manatee County.

Sponsors of this year’s Manatee Pride include Throb Nightclub, Tropicana, The Bradenton Herald, Bright House Networks, Macy’s, Watermark, Lambda Legal, Community AIDS Network, Tableseide, GSHRadio and Rainbow411.com.

For more information on Manatee Pride and how you can become a sponsor, visit manateepride.com or call (941) 357-0111. “Like” them on Facebook at facebook.com/manateepride.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.