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The 12th annual St. Pete Pride celebrations start Friday, June 27 and continue on through Sunday, June 29. Perhaps the biggest change this year is the decision to move the pride parade, one of the largest in Florida, to a nighttime setting.

The Saturday night block party will be held on June 28 starting at 5 p.m. on Central Avenue between 22nd and 27th Streets, featuring DJs, food and drink. The nighttime pride parade kicks off from Georgie’s Alibi (3100 3rd Ave. N.) shortly after sunset (estimated to set at 8:30 p.m. on June 28). The parade route will take 3rd Ave. N. to 30th Street, and then down to Central Avenue, where it will continue for nine city blocks.

I talked to St. Pete Pride Executive Director Eric Skains about this year’s nighttime pride parade and his hopes to cultivate the parade and the overall weekend.

Whose idea was it to make the St. Pete Pride parade a night parade?

The Pride Board, Production Team members, and community leaders came together in August 2013 for a 2014 planning session. We used an outside group to survey attendees, the greater LGBT community of Tampa Bay, sponsors and business leaders to determine how we can expand, rejuvenate and address many obstacles and challenges. In the end, the three-day celebration highlighted with the nighttime parade was created as an initial step towards a longer-term plan for St. Pete Pride.

Why are you personally excited to transition the pride parade to the evening?

Opportunity. Not just the evening aspect, but the entire move to a three-day celebration. There’s so much we can do with an expansion into three days. Everything has been pushed into one day for so long, and we were leaving so much of our community out of the mix. [Plus] the night aspect just gives a chance for so many more people to attend the celebration than ever before as it’s easily 10 to 15 degrees cooler in St. Pete at night than it is during the day.

Has this change been warmly received by the community?

Absolutely. We’ve seen an enormous amount of support for the entire change, from the three days to the night parade. It’s been tough for some to accept the change, but that will always be the case. But for the most part we haven’t had any push back, from the businesses and sponsors to the attendees and local officials. After all, it was the community’s voice that helped make this decision.

For more details about the night parade, visit the Pride Weekend page at stpetepride.com/prideweekend.

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