Organizers of the St. Pete Pride Parade are making big changes to keep you safe. For the first time, the parade will run along the waterfront in downtown St Petersburg, instead of through the Grand Central District. That one shift could make a difference for security.
The organizers of Florida’s largest Pride Parade in St. Pete, which attracts more than 200,000 people every year, are doing everything they can to make sure a violent crime like the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub doesn’t happen here.
For the very first time, the parade will wind down Bayshore Drive NE along St Pete’s downtown waterfront.
Organizer Luke Blankenship says there’s a big perk to the new location. “One side is water so you don’t even have to worry about that. We don’t have to put as many officers on that side of the parade.”
Organizers say there are three distinct reasons this location will be even safer than Central Avenue:
First, the new downtown route crosses fewer intersections, which are heavily secured. “We block off every intersection with garbage trucks,” Blankenship explained.
Next, the route has two main parks, Vinoy and Straub, where crews will add fences to limit and control access.
Third, there will be more space. Last year, people only had 2 1/2 feet per person to watch the parade, this year they’ll have more room. FEMA reccomends at least 3 square feet per person to avoid chaos.
Yet, with more than 200,000 people cramming the area, organizers hope you’ll help them too.
Brian Longstreth, a business owner along Central explained, “I usually scan the crowd and if anything looks odd it is probably odd. That might be funny to some in a pride parade where there are a lot of different things but things that aren’t right, still stick out.”
Organizers are confident their security plan will keep you safe, so you can feel at ease celebrating one of Tampa Bay’s greatest assets: Diversity.
The St. Pete Pride parade festivities will take place June 23-25. The main parade is on June 24.
You can find more information about the festivities here: https://www.stpetepride.com/en.