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Going with the Flo at Winterfest Boat Parade

Flo Rida is the perfect man to lead one of South Florida's signature holiday bashes, Saturday's Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. Just ask Flo Rida.

"Because I'm the life of the party," says the chart-topping Miami-based rapper well known for pop crossover hits including "Low," "Wild Ones" and the new single "GDFR (Goin' Down for Real)." As the parade's grand marshal, his floating festivities in Fort Lauderdale Saturday will be extra special, he says. "What happens on my yacht, everybody will get a chance to experience for themselves. They're going to be jealous."

Beyond a great party, the Winterfest Boat Parade is another opportunity for Flo Rida to expand the brand, and there is a lot of product to move.

A new album, "The Perfect 10," which includes collaborations with Pitbull and Robin Thicke, is due out early next year. This week, he's been filming the video for "GDFR," being used as theme music for ESPN's NBA coverage, with cameo appearances by Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem, 2 Live Crew and Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.

A workout fiend, the 35-year-old Flo Rida has a fitness supplement, Celsius Flo Fusion, which he sponsored on NASCAR driver's Blake Koch's No. 44 car during the recent Nationwide Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He also has a bottled water and a workout program on the way, audio speakers, a new clothing line (which will be seen in the "GDFR" video) and a line of barware and home accessories called … Life of the Party.

Appearances at family-friendly events such as Winterfest and, last year, at the tween-skewing Jingle Ball concert at the BB&T Center, allow him to reach a broader audience and reinforce some important themes, he says.

"I'm all about the kids. I do a lot of charitable things. I just want them to enjoy life, versus focusing on negativity," he says. "I'm a guy who's all about positivity and love, and I want them to feel what I feel when I'm onstage."

Flo Rida recently hosted the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin at his annual free Gospel Explosion concert. The rapper says he is "very, very hurt" by the recent deaths of Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

"Only they know what they are going through," Flo Rida says of the families. He believes there is only one response. "Love conquers more than hate and negativity. That's what I'm all about."

Speaking about it is important, he says, whether it's a music celebrity such as himself or basketball idol LeBron James honoring the memory of Garner by wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt before a game on Monday.

"We all have a responsibility, because we're all a part of this world," he says. "Actions speak louder than words. That's why I'm always … showing people, my immediate crew as well as fans, that I'm all about giving. Whether it's time, or something that can help the next person."

The Winterfest Boat Parade will begin 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, on downtown Fort Lauderdale's New River, with boats first arriving at the official grandstand area at Birch State Park at about 7:30 p.m. Kids' activities and food and drinks of all kinds can be found in the grandstand area beginning at 3:30 p.m. Reserved grandstand seating at the park costs $25 and $20 (for 10 and younger) at WinterfestParade.com/Tickets.

bcrandell@southflorida.com

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