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Increased police presence planned for return of Polk Pride in the Park

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Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 21:17:49-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County’s largest pride event is returning this weekend with increased security.

“I got my new watch last year to include the black and brown stripes that stands for Black and Brown people are included,” said Vice President of Polk Pride Kerri McCoy, VP Polk Pride.

Kerri McCoy said pushing awareness and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community is what Polk Pride is all about. After being canceled the last two years, the vice president said Polk Pride is back and prouder than ever. The organization is gearing up for its largest event happening at Munn Park in Lakeland on Saturday.

“Pride in the Park is a family day. We will have over 100 vendors and several food trucks. We will have drag queens performing on the stage,” McCoy said.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the event. It is happening just one week after 31 members of a white nationalist group, were arrested for planning to riot at a Pride event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho,

“Sad just sad. I hate the fact that we have hate on any level but I'm glad nothing ended up happening. They got to them before they could do anything,” McCoy said.

The Lakeland Police Department tells ABC Action News there has not been any threats to disrupt Pride in the Park but it is beefing up security.

“Polk Pride works directly with the Lakeland Police Department to make sure we have the necessary security measures in place. Lakeland police will be on site and make sure that we have the safest event we can have,” said Scott Guira, Polk Pride President.

After a long-awaited return, Guira said there is an even greater push to promote the prosperity of the Polk County LGBTQ+ community.

“I know what it was several years ago, and I know what it’s like today. As we continue to progress and move forward as a global society, Lakeland and Polk County has continued to go right along that. It's a welcoming and exclusive place for everybody,” he said.

Pride in the Park is happening on June 18 from 10am to 3pm at Munn Park.