First Friday St. Pete canceled indefinitely due to lack of funding

An over 20-year tradition in Downtown St. Pete is put on pause until further notice due to lack of funding.  

First Friday St. Pete is a massive block party on Central Ave featuring live music, vendors, food trucks, and more. The Breakfast Optimist Club launched the event more than 20 years ago. 

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When the pandemic hit, it was suspended for nearly two years until Nightlife Productions, LLC. picked it up. 

But Operations Manager Kristen Lee said lately she's rarely been able to breakeven. In turn, her charity, the Lay-Lee Foundation, has been able to serve the community.

"We started our own charity to give musical instruments to schools because that's what we do is music, and I'm a former science teacher, so I want to be able to give back to the community," she said, "It makes me sad because, as a teacher, I do want to give back to something I believe in."

Lee said the event costs $12,000 to host every month. 

Photo courtesy: Kristen Lee

"About $5,000 is city services, so it's the extra police on hand that have to be here, sanitation to bring the large garbage trucks to sweep up the street once it's over, sanitation workers," she said. 

Third-party security and insurance are also included costs. 

Now she and Pete Boland, the owner and operator of Mary Margaret's Olde Irish Tavern, are hoping to resurrect the event. 

"Having the First Friday event, it's always a great night. There's always a lot going on," Boland said, "We want to keep that going."

Lee is seeking additional sponsors for the event. 

"We have many different levels. With each different sponsorship level comes different benefits whether it's a logo on the banners that run across the stage or the banners at the top," she said.

If you're interested in sponsoring the event, email Lee at