St. Pete Pride weekend wraps up

- The three-day St. Pete Pride celebration wrapped up Sunday with a festival that drew thousands to Central Avenue.

A mix of street performers, vendors and plenty of rainbow-clad revelers made for an incredible block party on Central, which has hosted the Southeast’s largest pride celebration since 2003.

One big change to this year's festivities, however, had plenty of people talking. For the first time in St. Pete Pride's 15-year history, its famous parade was taken downtown to Bayshore Drive.

The new location offered waterfront views and, according to security officials, was much easier to protect: With no cross streets cutting through the parade route, police had fewer roads to blockade in order to keep spectators safe. 

Not everyone though was on board with splitting the party between downtown St. Pete and Pride's historic stomping grounds on Central Avenue.

“Central is the 'hood, not Bayshore,” said one Sunday festival-goer who said he skipped the parade altogether this year. “This is the 'hood. These are the people that support us and we should support them.” 

Many Central Avenue businesses, several of which proudly fly rainbow flags year-round, agree.

“We were the first to accept the event into our area and we feel like we were an integral part into developing it into the success that it has become,” said Patti Bradfield, who owns the Pieces of a Dream gift store on Central Avenue. “My hope, and all of our hopes as merchants, is that they bring [the parade] back where it belongs.”

According to St. Pete Police, this year's parade brought a crowd of 30,000 to downtown St. Pete on Saturday.

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