Space Coast Pride Festival and Parade

The Space Coast Pride Festival and Parade will return this September in celebration of Pride month.

BREVARD COUNTY ― The Space Coast Pride Festival and Parade celebrates its 13th year on Sept. 28 with a more expansive and robust celebration than previously seen. Cortney Thompson, president of Space Coast Pride, has stated that more vendors and sponsors have signed on for this year than in previous years.

"The footprint for the festival is bigger than it was last year," said Mr. Thompson. "The parade route is longer, we have over 50 parade contingents and that number keeps on growing."

Each year has brought more participation than the previous, with a number of local and national reasons for the steady growth.

"I think the growing is in part that we're getting more exposure every year, but also there's a lot more attention on our community than there ever has been in the last two or three years," Mr. Thompson said.

Careful planning for the event has encompassed most of the past year.

"As soon as last year's festival was over we took about a month off, then started right back up with planning for this year with the emphasis that it was going to be a lot bigger, and it already is," Mr. Thompson said.

Twisted Rooster Bar, a platinum sponsor and official host venue, will be celebrating Space Coast Pride throughout the month of September, leading to the festival and parade. The bar, Brevard's sole LGBTQ entertainment venue, will have giveaways, drink specials and other fun-themed activities during the entire month.

"I personally feel very proud and fortunate to be a part of Pride this year, but it takes a village to make this happen," said Jimit Kapadia, owner of Twisted Rooster. "We all at Twisted Rooster are proud of our community to embrace this festival and genuinely happy to see everyone come together."

Twisted Rooster is also sponsoring the SCP Ambassador pageant.

The pride festival holds a special meaning for Mr. Kapadia.

"This festival brings self-acceptance and teaches you to be proud of who you are as an individual," Mr. Kapadia said.

"The meaning behind each color stripe of [the] rainbow flag generally describes as life, peace, togetherness, love and happiness. This festival has taught me to pay it forward and spread love."

Space Coast Pride is putting significant emphasis on its 2019 Pride Gala and Ambassador Pageant, kicking off Pride Month on Sept. 7 at the Holiday Inn Melbourne-Viera Conference Center. The pageant will kick off Pride month with contestants competing for the crown of SCP Ambassador of 2019.

Contestants will be judged on a variety of categorical performances in presentation, talent, question and answer, formal evening wear and their platform. The winner will have the distinguished honor of being the Pride Ambassador of the year.

Entrance fee is $100 and interested participants can register through SCP.

The event will feature a full bar, hor d'oeuvres, a silent auction, entertainment and more. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Space Coast Pride website.

Prior to the Sept. 28 parade is the Rainbow Run 5K, a fun and family-orientated run for anyone to join. The race will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 at the Eau Gallie Civic Center, located at 1551 Highland Avenue in Melbourne. Early registration fees are $30 for adults, $20 for children (12 and under). The race will feature free T-shirts and drawstring backpack for the first 400 registrations, various vendors and entertainment. There will also be a Pre-Race Party and a Block Party after the race.

Space Coast Pride began the planning stages of the festival with the idea that there would be a growth in support and sponsorship dollars. Mr. Thompson explained that the rise in support towards the LGBTQ community contributed to the successful size and opportunities this year's festival will showcase.

"Brevard County is known for being a very conservative stronghold. Although that may be true, I think in the last few years it's started to crack. It's not about people being conservative or liberal anymore. People are starting to see that their friends, they're family or their neighbors are a part of our community," Mr. Thompson said. "Unfortunately it's come to this, but it's either you support us, or you don't, and I think there's been more support for us than there ever has been."

Pride Month will feature several different events organized by Space Coast Pride, and vendor and sponsorship opportunities are still available but will be limited as the festival draws closer.

"I think the number of supporters, those that champion for our community, even those that don't identify with our community, still support us. More people are for us than against us."

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