As the cost of Wilton Manors real estate continues to rise, the hip and savvy are moving north to Oakland Park, and have been for some time.
An obvious hallmark of a burgeoning LGBTQ community is a Pride Festival. A little over two months ago, the City of Oakland Park spearheaded the celebration – not an independent community group.
Now that the (fairy) dust has settled, let’s do a recap.
Last year, Oakland Park held their first pride celebration in Jaco Pastorius Park. This year, the event moved to Main Street: the strip runs parallel to the train tracks, flanked by Funky Buddha Brewery on the north side, City Hall to the east and Oakland Park Blvd to the south.
Functionally it’s a great location for a street festival. Besides rain earlier in the day that left the heat of the evening more humid than usual, the event went on without a hitch.
With Tallahassee targeting the LGBTQ community this could have been a defiant protest. It wasn’t. The vibe felt more unbothered, as though this community was “proceeding as normal” despite the anti-LGBTQ legislation. This was quite apparent from the crowd’s reaction when the wait-staff from LIPS appeared on the main stage.
One attendee expressed relief.
“I knew our police weren’t going to act as henchmen for DeSantis when I saw them posing for selfies with those queens. The city was able to host a successful event that celebrated Pride month and supported local businesses, including LIPS Drag Queen Show Palace.”
Drag queens – which are seminal to any Pride experience – “created a fun and energetic atmosphere by emceeing the event and presenting awards to contest winners,” said the official statement from Oakland Park Public Information Officer, Shannon Vezina. The flyers indicated the event was “family friendly” and indeed it was. There were face painters and bounce houses for kids, of which there were quite a few present.
“We’re always proud to celebrate Diversity in our community,” said Vezina.
Pride was considered a success by Mayor Aisha Gordon and the entire City Council, who were all in attendance. The plans are to make it bigger and better every year.
This year, the event team led by Bruce Garrison, spent 10 weeks planning the block party. The City of Oakland Park allocated $17,000 for the operational budget. Big Dog Station and Tatts & Tacos Two Main Street hosted cash bars. Seven food trucks with different cuisines catered the event, the majority of whom said they had a very successful evening.
Festivals in Oakland Park Coming Soon
Latin Fest is coming up on Sept. 22. The popular Oktoberfest event is planned for this Oct. 6 – 8. Also included on our calendar this coming year is the very popular and festive Holiday Village, a seasonal event Dec. 1 and 2, Taste of Oakland Park Feb. 23, and Dancing in the Street April 25.