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‘Just be Yourself:’ PRIDE Festival opens Saturday

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Feb 29, 2024

“Just be Yourself,” the sixth annual PRIDE Festival kicks off Saturday for two days of events.

“Every year it gets bigger and better,” PRIDE Cape Coral Board Member Melissa Moore said. “It was founded by locals in the area — a collaborative team of individuals that have a passion for the LGBTQ community. It’s a very diverse board for PRIDE Cape Coral.”

Founder Shelly Walton said PRIDE Cape Coral was started because they thought the time was right.

“We wanted to get that started. As a mother of a gay son, it was super important to me,” she said, adding that they started in 2019. “We wanted to see some diversity in the community, which we didn’t have.”

The PRIDE Festival will kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2 with the PRIDE Cape Coral Parade stepping off at 4 p.m. Moore said the parade will start on Southeast 47th Terrace.

“The parade is a unique element to the event. It’s the only PRIDE parade in this area,” Moore said, adding that they are still accepting participation for the parade.

Those who participate in the parade include businesses, nonprofits, individuals, and leaders of the community showing their support.

From 5 to 10 pm. there will be live entertainment on the big stage, as well as street performers. The headliner this year will be the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Kylie Sonique Love. Other entertainment includes DJ Mad Mel, as well as performances from local and national drag entertainers. There is also a vendor village.

There are two options for VIP tickets, one for $25, that includes entertainment meet-and-greet, and the other $125, which includes a meet-and-greet with entertainment, a tent, food and drinks and exclusive viewing during the parade.

The official after-party will be held at Cruisers Lounge, 1517 S.E. 47th Terrace.

“It’s a safe place for everybody participating to hang out with like-minded individuals,” Moore said.

On Sunday, March 3, the festival will continue with a Drag Brunch in the Street at 10th Place. The brunch begins at 11 a.m. with the show starting at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $45. There will be mimosas, bagels, and other bites to indulge in while watching the entertainment. Moore said some of the queens that performed Saturday will be at the brunch.

VIP tickets and brunch tickets can be purchased at pridecapecoral.com.

“This is an event that really caters to everybody,” Moore said. “It’s a really great time, positivity, and great energy. It’s a positive experience.”