Winter Park commissioners to vote on special event banner policy change

If passed, city would limit what banners are permitted

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Winter Park commissioners are expected to vote on changes to its special event banner policy on Wednesday.

As of now, banners attached to light poles can be seen throughout the city of Winter Park, promoting city events and messaging, among other topics, but the city commission vote could change what banners are permitted.

If the policy is passed, organizations like the Winter Park Pride Project would no longer meet the criteria to fly rainbow banners on city poles during Pride Month.

At a meeting earlier in March, a handful of residents shared their reactions to the new policy with city commissioners and staff.

“This current writing is very full of loopholes,” Hattie Bryant said. “How about the criteria be, ‘Fun, festive, and no preaching?’”

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Resident Sandy Dwyer disagreed.

“I don’t see how rainbow peacocks help promote the culture, history, health and safety of the general welfare of the city of Winter Park. Do you?” Dwyer said. “This doesn’t mean anything to most of us in this room, and I’m sure the peacocks are not happy about this.”

Bonnie Jackson, who also spoke at the meeting, had requested the city hang “choose life” banners after the rainbow banners were displayed in June.

“The problem is the city doesn’t want to fly my proposed banner,” Jackson said. “Apparently it is too controversial, ‘Oh my God, celebrate life, celebrate family. That’s just shocking.’ I mean, come on. Shame on you.”

The city’s own discussion about what the criteria for its updated banner policy should be resulted in a new proposal that would limit participation in the banner program. Banners would be allowed in three instances— for city events, city-sponsored events, and nonprofits under certain criteria.

An application that is denied by city staff could be appealed by the commission.

“No matter what is written in black or white, it’s going to be an interpretive voting matter of this commission to say, ‘Does it fit that box or not?’” Mayor Phil Anderson said.

Commissioners discussed the impact of their potential decision, including challenges, lawsuits, changing commissions, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling after Boston was challenged for refusing to fly a Christian flag outside its city hall.

The city’s proposed policy would allow staff to designate a list of approved entities that could display banners, even if they do not own the property. Below is the proposed list:

Colleges and Universities - may only display logo banners or anniversary celebration banners

  1. Rollins
  2. Valencia

Museums and Cultural Partners - may only display current exhibit banners, logo banners or anniversary celebration banners

  1. Rollins Museum of Art
  2. Albin Polasek Museum
  3. Morse Museum
  4. Winter Park Historical Society
  5. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum
  6. Heritage Center
  7. Crealde
  8. Winter Park Playhouse
  9. Winter Park Chamber of Commerce
  10. Winter Park Library

Jackson called the policy “too broad” at the March 8 meeting.

Thor Falk, the founder and president of the Winter Park Pride Project, said he was sad that this has become an issue in the city.

He sent the following statement expressing his disappointment.

“I think the city found itself in a difficult situation regarding the process to approve banners. We are confident we had the support of the City and that the changes in banner policy did not reflect any bad will toward our organization or initiative. He went on to explain, “Without the streetlamp banners, it becomes even more critical for businesses in Winter Park to fly the Pride flags. We have options to make doing so even easier this year.”

Thor Falk, founder and president of Winter Park Pride Project


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Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.