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Bigger and better: Sarasota’s 32nd annual Pride event

Written by on Saturday, October 21, 2023

All city commissioners are set to attend – despite the culture war climate.

By Sarah Malickson

Original Air Date: Oct. 2o, 2023

Host: In recent years, Sarasota’s pride events have been in the hot seat. The City of Sarasota continues to show support and hoists the pride flag in front of city hall. But county commissioners have complained about what they see as public displays of obscenity, in view of children. A big and very public Pride event is coming up this weekend, and WSLR News reporter Sarah Malickson has the scoop.

Sarah Malickson: SRQ Pride will host Sarasota’s October Pride event this Saturday for the 32nd year. But there is lingering concern around the event, since last time Sarasota County commissioners harped on Pride and interactions with children, reinforcing the idea of “grooming.” The county commissioners also recently stopped tax funding for ALSO Youth, an organization that supports local LGBTQ+ teens and young adults. I spoke to Jason Champion, president of SRQ Pride, and despite this event’s past challenges, he shared that this weekend’s event looks promising.

Jason Champion

Jason Champion: We have full acceptance within the city right now, and we have not received any issue or complaint, to date, about the Pride festival being outdoors.

SM: Champion also shared that despite recent happenings, every city commissioner will be in attendance and speaking at the event this year, including Mayor Kyle Battie, but there has been some direction given by Sarasota’s police chief for the event’s etiquette.

JC: So we’re very excited about that. Every city commissioner is speaking here at Pride, along with the mayor. So we’re very happy about that. Right now, we have not seen a pushback for having things in public. Our police chief informed us as long as there’s no nudity and no excessive cussing, we’re fine.

SM: Despite the good news for the event, Champion emphasized that they will be taking necessary precautions for the event, to ensure that attendees are protected from any potential attacks.

JC: We’re definitely prepared for security measures, the same way that we prepared for our events in June. The police force will be on hand. We have undercover police officers that will be there as well. But their job is to protect and serve, and that is what they signed up to do. 

SM: The event will have a full spread of activities and will include 90 vendors. Champion is excited about the event and anticipates a great turnout. Saturday’s activities are as follows:   

 JC: At 11 o’clock pride kicks off with the inaugural LGBTQ bike rally followed with our grand marshals, Tom Edwards of the school board and Donna Kaufman, and that parade will come down Main Street past the farmers market and into the festival. Starting at noon, we’ll have political figures speaking, and then it will roll into entertainment. Then, we have a pet parade starting at 3 pm. Pets will get to strut across the stage, and they’ll win prizes. But to give some big, big context, we have 90-plus vendors here. We have multiple food trucks, kids zone, and fun activities throughout the entire day. 

SM: Champion hopes for a safe, fun and exciting Pride weekend.

This has been Sarah Malickson with WSLR News.



WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.