Located just south of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Bay region along Florida's breezy central Gulf Coast, the bustling city of Sarasota has developed an increasingly popular gay pride celebration. It makes sense, given the relatively youthful - by Florida standards - and vibrant population (about 55,000 in total) in this upscale city whose metro area also takes in several beautiful barrier islands, including Siesta Key, Bird Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key, and the largest of them all, Long Boat Key. The Sarasota Gay Pride celebration takes place the last week in late October - the date of Pride Fest, at J.D. Hamel Park, will be October 19, 2013, but there are events throughout the preceding week.
Details about Sarasota Gay Pride 2013 will be posted here as they become available - in the meantime, here's a look at last year's event:
The festivities begin with a Pride Week Kick-Off "Walk for Equality & Unity" - featuring a mile-long rainbow flag carried across the city's famed Ringling Bridge - on Sunday before Pride, at 1 pm, followed by a party at O'Leary's Water Sports & Grill, at 5 Bayfront Drive. A variety of parties, movie nights, LGBT author signings and readings, and even a Halloween Costume Gala at the elegant Hyatt Regency (on Halloween eve, Friday) take place throughout the week.
The main event for Sarasota Gay Pride is the free Pride Fest, which takes place from noon until 6 pm on Saturday, in J.D. Hamel Park (at Main St. and Gulfstream Avenue, just north of Tamiami Trail and the marina, near the causeway and bridge that leads over the bay to St. Armands Key. Emcees for the event are Lindsey Carlton and Beneva Fruitville, and there's live music, food, a dunking booth with Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner, a vendor expo, and much more.
Additionally, many bars, restaurants, and other local businesses are likely to have more of a gay presence throughout the week, and possibly even some parties and promotions. Check regional gay papers, such as Watermark for details. Also take a look at the excellent travel site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Sarasota and Her Islands CVB.