Sarasota Pride to hold 31st celebration

ABOVE: Sarasota Pride 2020. Photo by Dylan Todd.

SARASOTA | Sarasota Pride will hold its 31st celebration Oct. 22 from 12-5 p.m. at J.D. Hamel Park, its first event in more than two years.

Sarasota Pride, Inc., the event’s organizing nonprofit, celebrated 30 years ahead of most COVID-19 cancellations in Jan. 2020. Its upcoming celebration was originally scheduled for Jan. 22 after skipping 2021 due to the pandemic.

“As much as we hated to postpone Sarasota Pride again, our Board of Directors felt it was the best decision given the circumstances,” Sarasota Pride President Cindy Barnes shared. Florida was experiencing another surge in COVID-19 at the time.

“We know our community wants to come out to celebrate together, but they’ve also told us that they want to wait to do that when they feel it’s safer,” she continued. Organizers say that time is now.

“It’s happening,” Barnes stresses. “I think people are itching to get back to it; we had such a great turnout in 2020, it was unbelievable. We’re hoping for another beautiful day this year.”

An estimated 5,000 people attended Sarasota Pride in 2020, a number Barnes hopes to match or exceed. In preparation, at least 50 different vendors will offer beverages, food and other goods and services.

“We have such a wide variety of vendors this year,” Barnes says. “There’s stuff we’ve never had before. We’re going to have everything under the sun.”

Sarasota entertainer Lindsay Carlton-Cline will emcee the event, welcoming fellow drag icons from throughout the region. Fan favorite entertainers Divine AF, Karmic Tattoo and Sandi Grecco will also provide live music.

Additionally, Sarasota Pride 2022 will feature a Kids’ Zone sponsored by Project Pride, which has fought for LGBTQ equality in Sarasota since 2019. The area will include a 40-foot slide, face painting and more.

“It’s nice to see families come,” Barnes says. She notes that attendees are LGBTQ and allies, which is “really heartwarming, especially in the political climate we have right now.”

To make this year’s return possible, Project Pride will also serve as presenting sponsor. The nonprofit sees it as an extension of their own mission.

“Project Pride is thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of Sarasota Pride’s most iconic event,” Project Pride President Jordan Letschert says. “For decades, Sarasota Pride has hosted events bringing the LGBTQ+ community and our allies together.

“For our part, we look forward to making it a memorable event with some exciting news that will be shared – so come out and join us to celebrate, unite and support the LGBTQ+ community,” he also teases.

“Everyone that’s a part of Project Pride I have known for a long time,” Barnes says. “They’ve got their act together and have quality people behind them. We really rely on vendors and sponsors like Project Pride to make Sarasota Pride happen.”

This year will also mark Barnes’ final Sarasota Pride as president. Her involvement with the organization began in 2006 and she became its figurehead in 2010, guiding the organization through significant growth.

Barnes expects Sarasota Pride will continue to thrive, beginning with this year’s event.

“We’re going to make it a great day,” she says. “Come out, be who you are and have fun. Bring your friends, bring your family. Let’s all make it a day of celebration because that’s what we need it to be.”

Sarasota Pride will return Oct. 22 from 12-5 p.m. at J.D. Hamel Park, located at 199 Bayfront Dr. in Sarasota. For more information, visit Learn more about Project Pride at

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