Stonewall Pride’s June Event Faces Existential Crisis

Stonewall Pride Parade 2023. Photo by JR Davis.

The confluence of Florida’s political climate, less money available from traditional sponsors, and a day of downpours is creating major problems for Wilton Manors’ annual Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival that takes place each June. 

South Florida’s most venerable Pride has had a tough year. Attendance and, therefore, revenue was down at June’s event thanks in part to relentless rain. Consequently, Hotspots! Events, formerly WMEG/Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, the organization that produces the event, may not get the permit for 2024.

Hotspots! Events still owes creditors for the 2023 party, including $45,000 for fire and security costs, according to Hotspots! Events’ Jeff Sterling. The city is on the hook for those bills if the producers don’t pay, so Wilton Manors officials are telling OutSFL they won’t issue him a permit until those debts are paid.

Sterling and WMEG have run the summer event for several years, usually breaking even or turning a modest profit.

“We worked hard to put stability in the event. We’ve surpassed city hurdles,” he said.

From name recognition to infrastructure like web/social media to a reliable model, Sterling’s organization has assets most organizations would love to have.

He believes his work over the past years warrants letting him continue.

“We made the city an offer. I think they’re making a mistake,” Sterling said.

South Florida has already lost three major LGBTQ community events in the past three months. Losing Stonewall would be a gut punch. It’s the last major event on the Drive until autumn, and money made that weekend goes a long way towards bars and restaurants making it through the summer.

Waiting In the Wings

However, several of Wilton Manors’ power players have told OutSFL a group of area leaders, businesses, and nonprofits, are prepared to step in should Sterling fail to get the permit. The city usually awards the permit in February, and the past several years, WMEG has been the only applicant.

A February decision means there’s only four months to pull the event together. That’s a short runway for a startup committee planning an event of this size. Remember: the city doesn’t own Stonewall, they just issue the permit. Sterling owns the name, branding, website, etc.

Any new group will need to find a new name and would be starting from scratch with sponsors. We’re told last year’s Stonewall budget was about $935,000. A good chunk of that are costs that any group may find daunting. Insurance and security are not only necessary, they’re critical to holding an event of this scale. According to organizers, 50,000 people attended in 2022, while between 35,000-40,000 showed up for the rain soaked party in 2023.

If another group produces the event, OutSFL has been told the Pride Parade could be a sacrificial lamb. The parade is a logistical nightmare, and a first time group may not be able to put together a parade and a street party.


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Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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