St. Pete Pride to kick off 3-day event

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – For the first time in its 15 year history, Saturday’s St. Pete Pride parade will kick off along a new route.

Thousands of people will converge on the city’s waterfront along Bayshore Drive.

Officer Eric Holmes will be among the officers on ATV’s. They are used to patrol the bar areas downtown and can maneuver in tight spaces.

“We could literally grab two of the EMS guys and throw them in the back of the four-seater and take them to the patient,” said Officer Holmes.

Work crews are assembling the stage and other venues along the waterfront, moved here for economic and other reasons.

“It allows for an easier way to secure the events. One is, half the route is water and then we close less intersections,” said Eric Skains, Executive Director of St. Pete Pride.

Past years have seen the parade in the Grand Central District. The move had its critics who feared it would lose its attraction. But, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“The entire downtown area has embraced us. You go down Beach Drive and pretty much every restaurant and bar and shop has rainbow flags in the windows, it’s great,” said Skaines.

St. Petersburg police will monitor the area from a command center, watching for any signs of trouble on feeds from cameras along the parade route and elsewhere.

“We’ll have our marine unit out there. We’ll have guys and gals on ATV’s. We’ll have guys and gals on scooters. We’ll have detectives in plain clothes and we just want to make sure that it’s safe for everyone that’s coming to the event,” said Chief Anthony Holloway.

The mini-patrol units (ATV’s) will be ready. They can jump curbs and travel on sand or grass.

“Anything that we can to make a better response time, or increase public safety, that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Officer Eric Holmes.

Over the next three days, 250,000 people are expected to be part of the St. Pete Pride events.

On Sunday, the street festival moves to the Grand Central District.

It all gets started Thursday with a free concert at North Straub Park.

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