TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Saturday, Tampa hosted the country’s first pride festival since the start of the pandemic.
The Tampa Pride 2021 Festival and Diversity Parade returned to Ybor City. The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
Organizers planned for 30,000 people to fill the streets of Ybor City Saturday, which is down from the 70,000 people who showed up to the festival and parade in 2019. Planners hope to recoup some of the money the non-profit lost.
Suerene Camacho came up from Naples with her wife and friends.
“It’s very special, our supportive friends, and we just got married,” Camacho said.
Russel Mania performed in his first Pride Festival, but for him, the overall event was much bigger.
“It’s important for us to unify and be together and show our strength,” he said. “Where there’s strength, there’s power.”
Many business owners have also looked forward to this day. Lis Lawson is the owner of Cerealholic Cafe and Bar in Ybor City, which just opened in January. She’s gone to every Pride festival and parade in Tampa, and now she wants people to know that her business is supportive as well.
“I have gay children so I make sure I show my support, free mom hugs for everyone,” Lawson said. “I make sure we’re always a part of the gay community and we’re here for them, to have a safe place and celebrate.”
The Tampa Pride Street Festival kicked off at 10:45 a.m. and the Tampa Pride 2021 Diversity Parade took place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. There were extra sanitation stations in place and masks were also given out. All guests were asked to follow the current CDC guidelines.