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St. Pete Preps For Pride Festivities

Morgan McMullen
WUSF 89.7 News
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman prepares to raise a rainbow flag outside of City Hall Thursday, which marks the start of St. Pete Pride weekend.

Surrounded by a crowd of about a hundred spectators, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman lowered the American flag outside City Hall.

He then re-raised it, with a new rainbow flag adorning the rope just beneath it.

Thursday marked the fourth annual St. Petersburg Pride Flag Raising, a tradition started in Kriseman’s first year as mayor.

“When I first raised this flag in 2014,” Kriseman said, “it was to serve as an illustration of our new vision and to signal to our residents and visitors that it was a new day in City Hall.”

Kriseman also said he thought it was “about time” that the St. Pete government recognized the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

The ceremony was the kick-off event for this weekend's St. Pete Pride, a yearly festival with parades and parties celebrating LGBT Pride Month.

This will be the 15th St. Pete Pride, and the second since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last June.

Among the weekend festivities are bottomless mimosas and bloody Mary's at a Saturday morning brunch, a gay and lesbian film festival and the annual parade.

Kriseman said this year's parade will run along the downtown waterfront on Bayshore Drive, after previously being held in the Grand Central District each of the past 14 years.  However, Kriseman said that the street fair would still be held there.

As for security for the festival, Kriseman was mum on the specifics.

“I obviously can't go into details about the security that we're doing, but we feel very comfortable and confident that everyone who attends will be safe,” he said. “Our men and women of our St. Pete Police Department, St. Pete Fire Rescue, they do an outstanding job.”

The mayor also took the opportunity to introduce St. Pete's new LGBT community liaison, Jim Nixon.

In his new role, which previously had been vacant for a year and a half, Nixon will be responsible for handling complaints of housing or job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“We need to get involved from a city standpoint,” he said.

Nixon will also be in charge of marketing the city as an LGBT-friendly destination for travelers.

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