For community cafe owner Mandy Keyes, the annual St. Pete Pride festival is important:
"It’s one of the main reasons we picked this neighborhood," she said.
Her sales are up to 6 times what she draws on a regular weekend, "It is our biggest weekend of the year," says Keyes, "It’s kind of crazy, I mean, there’s so many people. "
At least 300 thousand people are expected there…filling places like the Hollander hotel, where manager Dathan Devore is preparing for a huge celebration.
"We’re completely sold out, in light of the events going on in the downtown area, you know, we’re looking at a full house," the hotel filled all 99 rooms.
Attendees and their dollars are welcome here, but the mayor and police chief say their guns are not. The request has drawn heat from firearms rights groups.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said at a flag raising this morning, saying:
"I’m going to resist the temptation to make today about guns but i can assure you that I will speak out against the embarrassment that is our national and state gun laws.”
Yolanda Fernandez, a St. Pete police department spokesperson said emphasized that alcohol and guns are a dangerous combination but acknowledged that neither the mayor nor chief has the legal authority to ban guns:
"Clearly if you’re a concealed gun carrier you’re going to do what you do,"
Police say for this event, a gun is simply not a necessary accessory, and that they have security covered.
Fernandez added: "Neighboring police departments like Tampa police and Clearwater police are going to be helping us out, then we also have our federal partners like the F.B.I., the F.D.L.E., the A.T.F.; they’re all providing us with intelligence and resources we normally wouldn’t have for this event."