South Beach may be a century old, but the city’s grand Gay Pride celebration is only six years old. Of course, six is the perfect age to appreciate a vibrant and colorful parade, and this year’s Sunday afternoon extravaganza was bigger, brighter, and better than ever.
For a few sweaty hours, Ocean Drive between Fifth and 14th Street was transformed into a bead-throwing, booty-shaking heaven on Earth. Floats and cars and costumed geniuses funneled through the thousands of revelers on either side of the street, culminating in a big dance party and series of performances at the giant stage erected on 11th Street and a special appearance from Mario Lopez.
The theme was “Be You,” and word on the street confirmed Miami New Times’ suspicions that this parade showed more corporate and community support than ever. Everyone from Tesla Motor Company to Coca-Cola was there. Florida International University and the University of Miami were also in line to show their pride. Some float riders came armed with giant water guns to help the crowd cool down, and more than a few party people shot bubbles in all directions.
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One float celebrated recently married couples honoring Florida’s landmark decision to recognize gay marriages in January. Some groups walked to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS in the Miami community. Lots of groups handed out condoms, fans, party toys, and even lip balm.
The best of all, of course, was the costumes. Drag queens are just the beginning at Gay Pride. The muscle men in tight bathing suits had temperatures rising, but it was the over-the-top looks from the Palace and Twist floats that really had us going. Palace brought the prettiest and wildest drag queens of the whole parade, as we should expect from the SoBe drag mecca. Twist meanwhile took up the rear, closing out the parade with an out-of-this-world space-themed presentation complete with Gay-liens, Star Trek and Star Wars characters, and a giant silver planet.
The parade was followed by live drag performances and ruled over by this year’s celebrity guest Mario Lopez. Of course, the celebrations continued into the night with parties, open bars, and fireworks. The party continues with a special pride Cruise to Nassau and the private island Coco Cay, one final nautical adventure to end another beautiful year of daring to be you.