The ‘burg celebrates diversity this weekend with St. Pete Pride

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St. Petersburg shines this weekend as thousands of revelers descend on the city’s Grand Central and Kenwood neighborhoods for the 12th annual St. Pete Pride Festival, Florida’s largest LGBT and diversity celebration.

This year’s expanded festival will include a Block Party Saturday at 5 p.m. followed by the city’s first illuminated LGBT St. Pete Pride Parade around 8:30 p.m.

Mayor Rick Kriseman, for the first time in St. Petersburg’s history, will lead a delegation of city employees, along with units from St. Petersburg Police and St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue, along Central Avenue.

District 4 City Council Member Darden Rice will also ride in the 263-unit parade as a Grand Marshal.

On Sunday, more than 300 vendors line Central Avenue during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival for a day of live music, food and family fun.

A full schedule of St. Pete Pride events is available at www.stpetepride.com.

Motorists will experience traffic detours and delays both Saturday and Sunday in the Grand Central District, especially on Central Avenue between 21st and 28th Streets, closed to traffic from Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.

Motorists wishing to avoid traffic congestion are encouraged to use either First Avenues N. or S. or Fifth Avenues N. or S. for unobstructed east and westbound travel.

On Saturday, Central Avenue will close to traffic at 2 p.m. in preparation for the Block Party, a “mini” street festival offering live music, food and libations.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., St. Petersburg’s first illuminated night St. Pete Pride Parade travels from 3100 Third Ave. N. to Central Avenue, then travels east 10 blocks before dispersing at 21st St.

Central Avenue will reopen to traffic around 10 p.m.

Parking restrictions will be in place beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. on Central Avenue between 21st and 28th Streets until the event concludes at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 29. Additionally, parking restrictions will be in effect along 30th St. N. and Third Avenue N. from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, Central Avenue will close to traffic beginning at 8 a.m. for the Street Festival, which begins at 11 a.m. The Street Festival will feature more than 300 exhibitors, live music, food and family fun. Parking restrictions from Saturday night continue through Sunday until 8 p.m.

St. Pete’s first-ever illuminated Pride Parade steps off Saturday at sunset, approximately 8:30 p.m., from Third Avenue and 31st St. N., proceeding east to 30th St. N. The route continues south on 30th St. to Central Avenue, turns east and continuing to 21th St. N., where units disband. Clear views of the Pride Parade for those needing accessibility accommodations will be available in the 23-2400 blocks of Central Avenue

Temporary restrooms with accessible facilities are located along Central Avenue and in the Family Zone at Seminole Park, 30th St. N. and Third Avenue,

Festival parking is available throughout the Grand Central District and the downtown area, as well as in designated lots. Visitors should avoid areas posted as No Parking, using only legal parking spaces, observing all posted regulations, and avoiding tow away zones. Vehicle owners who normally park inside the event zone are encouraged to find alternate parking locations for the weekend to avoid citations and/or possible relocation.

Accessible disabled parking spaces will be located on First Avenue N. between 23rd and 25th Streets on a first come, first served basis.

An alternative for spectators is to leave their cars at home or park downtown and use public transportation, including PSTA buses and the Central Avenue Shuttle.

PSTA buses will run frequent routes along First Aves. N. and S. throughout the weekend. Other PSTA routes serving the downtown area and Grand Central District are Routes 7, 18, 20, and 52. Riders on other PSTA routes that normally operate in the Grand Central District may notice slight detours throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Central Avenue Shuttle operates on a slightly modified route this weekend to bypass Central Avenue Shuttle fares range from free, 50 cents or $2, depending on the boarding zone. Current route detour information is available at PSTA’s Rider Alert page.

The public must observe all conditions of the Street Closure permit issued to St. Pete Pride event organizers, including a designated area for free speech, size limits, display of hand-held signage, and use of amplified sound during the two-day festival.

Persons wishing to use amplified sound and/or hand-held signs or banners extending beyond their torso or mounted on sticks or other rigid objects will be permitted to do so on 27th Street where it fronts Central Avenue sidewalks.

These designated areas are located on 27th Street only – north of the Central Avenue northern sidewalk and south of the Central Avenue southern sidewalk OR anywhere outside the permitted area.

Copies of the street closure permit and additional permit conditions will be posted at the event. Maps are available at www.stpetepride.com.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.