Orlando Pride festival and parade return with COVID precautions

Come Out With Pride Orlando extends parade route for social distancing, recommends masks

Crowds at Orlando Pride parade (Davina's Photography, Handout: Come Out With Pride Orlando)

ORLANDO, Fla.Come Out With Pride Orlando’s festival and parade are back this year and organizers say it will be bigger and better than ever. Last year’s celebration was toned down because of COVID-19 concerns. In 2020, a caravan of cars traveling around the city replaced the traditional parade around Lake Eola Park.

This year, the parade route is being extended to allow for more social distancing. Participants will be asked to wear a mask throughout the festival, which runs from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday in Lake Eola Park. The parade begins at 4 p.m.

Come Out With Pride parade route (Come Out With Pride)

“The health and safety of our participants, attendants and volunteers is our top priority so we’ve been working with very closely with the City of Orlando and Orange County Government to make sure that we are doing everything that we need to follow the CDC guidelines,” said Tatiana Quiroga, executive director of Come Out With Pride Orlando.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be offered at the Bliss Health location in the Vendor Marketplace. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the park.

“We’re asking everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to please wear a mask,” Quiroga continued.

This year’s theme is “Unified By Pride.” A diverse group of entertainers will perform throughout the festival on two stages in Lake Eola Park.

Grand Marshals for this year’s parade include local entertainer Blue Star, Pulse survivor and Equality Florida activist Brandon Wolf, one of the first ever openly transgender Olympians, UCF graduate Chelsea Wolfe, One Orlando Alliance Board Chair Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet and local restaurateur and winner of Guy’s Grocery Games Trina Gregory-Propst.

Come Out with Pride Orlando 2018 (© 2018 Brian Harris)

“This year with the parade, we’ve gotten an incredible response. People are still sending in requests to be a part of the parade because it’s such a beloved part of our community and we’ve got a great combination of corporations that are supporting the LGBTQ+ community all the way to local non-profits that just want to be able to celebrate the work that they are doing. We’ve got Orange County, the City of Orlando, the fire departments, the police departments and we’ve got Orange County schools and Seminole County schools that are participating,” Quiroga said.

Come Out With Pride Orlando Executive Director Tatiana Quiroga (WKMG-TV)

Orlando’s Pride festival happens annually in early October to align with National Coming Out Day.

“We see all different types of families come on down. Some are LGBTQ+ parents with their kiddos and some are actually families who have an LGBTQ+ kiddo who want to just come on down and be a part of that community, so they are really just being strong allies for their own children.”

Girl waves Pride flag at Orlando parade (Handout: Come Out With Pride Orlando)

The night will end with fireworks over the Lake Eola fountain at 9:30 p.m.

More details from Come Out With Orlando are available here.

A list of Pride events leading up to the festival and parade is available here.

About the Author:

Phil Landeros joined WKMG-TV as an executive producer in March 2021.