TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on lots of local celebrations last year, but now it’s time to paint the town in all the colors of the rainbow again. Tampa’s Pride Festival is back this weekend!
Tampa city leaders say this is the first public Pride celebration in the country since the start of the pandemic.
“There’s going to be a bunch of events that day. I think there’s going to be a bunch of stands and people selling things,” said Olivia Rivera, who works at the Chillum Glass Gallery and CBD Dispensary.
Many local businesses on 7th Avenue in Ybor are preparing for the celebration, hopefully making up for last year’s loss.
“Obviously last year we didn’t get it so it was really sad, but we’re all excited to get back out into the streets. There’s going to be a parade still with people on the floats. It’s going to be awesome.”
River said the pandemic did more than stop the city from hosting Pride.
“It was really sad because a lot of places in town closed last year and there were a lot of gay hubs, so it sucked that we didn’t get Pride and we lost some key parts.”
Historically, Pride represents more than just a fun time. It encourages unity, self affirmation, equality and increased visibility.
“Things like Pride can help bring so many people together that may not get the support they need from their family or at home and things like that,” said Rivera. “It’s great to see people interact with their chosen family and just be themselves for a day and not have to worry about anything. It’s really great.”
The Tampa Pride Street Festival will be here in Ybor City at 10 a.m. on Saturday. There will be extra sanitation stations in place this weekend and masks will also be given out. All guests are required to follow the current CDC guidelines.