ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida's largest pride celebration made its way to downtown St. Petersburg this weekend.
Those heading to Bayshore Drive for the festivities got a chance to enjoy various vendors offering food, live performances, art and entertainment.
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This year's Pride festival is especially crucial with 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Organizers say St. Pete Pride gives the youth a place to call home.
"There are children today that go to school and they are bullied, that are told they are less than," said St. Pete Pride board president Chrys Bundy. "Our pride parade wants to make them feel like they belong. That they have a community that they are accepted."
Saturday is the Tech Data St. Pete Pride Parade from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Trans Parade March takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The main parade kicks off at 7:15 p.m.
Sunday is the big St. Pete Pride festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Pete Police Department leaders gave ABC Action News an inside look at the security upgrades that will be in place for the parade, which attracts 250,000 to downtown.
Officers have 4 new movable cameras thanks to a federal grant from Homeland Security. The 4 cameras will be set up over the crowds and used in addition to more than 40 fixed cameras that the city has had since Tampa Bay hosted the Republican National Convention in 2012.
The new cameras can zoom in more than 50 yards and have thermal imaging. “If a person does decide to go into a dark area, well guess what? We can still see who you are," Chief Anthony Holloway explained.
Inside a new command center at St. Pete Police Headquarters, state, federal and local partners, as well as firefighters will be all in one room and able to watch the live feeds from the cameras.
“We want everybody to know when they come to St. Pete you’re being monitored, but also you’re safe here,” Holloway added.
St. Pete Pride is expected to have a $22 million economic impact on St. Pete. Steve Westphal, the general manager of 400 Beach Seafood Restaurant says it's exciting. “We know every year when this comes it will be a great weekend for us.”
Evynn Fleming, an employee at Moon Under Water Restaurant, agrees. “Oh my god! Business is crazy. We get so many people coming in. The weekend is probably going to be our best selling point for the next couple of months. This is the biggest perk we get during the entire summer.”