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Expect big crowds, closed roads for Saturday's Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival in Wilton Manors

More than 35,000 people are expected to gather Saturday, June 16, at the 19th annual Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival in Wilton Manors.

The event runs from 4 to 11 p.m., with the parade beginning at 5 p.m. It will take place on Wilton Drive extending from Northeast 26th Street to Northeast 21st Court.

Entry is $5 with entrance points at 21st Court, Sixth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.

June is recognized nationally as Pride Month, which commemorates the June 1969 riots that followed a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay nightclub in New York’s Greenwich Village. This event is widely recognized as the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement, which continues to inspire the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

Wilton Manors was named the most gay-friendly city in Florida by Thrillist in 2017 and has hosted the Pride festival for the past 19 years.

“Hosted in a city with a population of just 12,385 residents, the event draws more than 35,000 festivalgoers — three times the city’s population,” says Jeffrey Sterling, executive director of the Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, the nonprofit that helps organize the festival.

Chuck Panozzo, bass player for the rock band Styx, will be the grand marshal of the event. Panozzo is a Wilton Manors resident and, as a gay man living with HIV, is an activist for HIV awareness.

In a press release for the festival, Mayor Gary Resnick says he is thrilled to have Panozzo serve as the grand marshal. “Over the years, this festival has grown into a destination event that brings people from all different places and backgrounds, together to celebrate the milestone achievements of the LGBT community,” he says.

The festival will begin with Our Night Out on Friday, June 15, at the Manor Complex at 2345 Wilton Drive. This interactive event will recognize LGBT culture through art, music, and entertainment such as a Cirque du Soleil-style show. It begins at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $10.

Main roads around the event will be closed starting at 4 a.m. Saturday. Event coordinators encourage ride sharing and have listed the following locations as ideal drop-off and pick-up spots: City Parking Lot at 840 NE Second St.; Woman’s Club at 600 NE 21st Court; Richardson Park at 1937 Wilton Drive; and Wilton Manors Library at 500 NE 26th St.

Parking will cost at least $20 per car.

For more information on the event, go to WiltonManorsStonewall.com or the event’s Facebook page.

erushing@sun-sentinel.com, 945-356-4745 or Twitter @ellierushing

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