Treasure Coast Pridefest limited to 21+, parade canceled

Changes come amid series of bills, laws coming from Tallahassee
2022 Treasure Coast Pridefest picture
Posted at 6:05 AM, Apr 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-21 10:22:32-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Days before Treasure Coast Pridefest, organizers have announced the parade will be canceled and the event will be 21-or-older to attend.

"For the last five years, we have been going to pride events regularly, so I think that he was a little bummed that he wasn't going to be able to go and have a good time this year," Stephanie Mudge said.

Together, Stephanie and Leianna Mudge have two young boys who said they're upset by the limitations.

"I understand that people have different outlooks on certain things, but it's not that we're pushing it on anybody else's children or anybody else's family. We're in our own family trying to love one another freely," Leianna Mudge said. "We are not going to go somewhere where our whole entire family including our children are not welcome."

Jack Waldroup, the president of the Pride Alliance, which is hosting the Treasure Coast Pridefest, said the parade was canceled because of the drag performers.

"It's always a family-friendly event," Leianna Mudge said. "I don't think it's ever become very provocative or anything like that it's been very family oriented."

"Last year, we had the fence around the whole event and everything, but this year, these are new; the black tarps are new," Donna Pixley, with Sanctuary LGBTQ+ Community Center, said. "I'm assuming it's because they don't people to be able to see what's going on inside."

Donna Pixley, with Sanctuary LGBTQ+ Community Center, shows Joel Lopez fence around site of Treasure Coast Pridefest
Donna Pixley, with Sanctuary LGBTQ+ Community Center, shows WPTV's Joel Lopez a new fence surrounding the site of Treasure Coast Pridefest.

Waldroup said the move is them just erring on the side of caution amid a series of bills and laws coming from Tallahassee and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Last year, we had a ton of children. We had activities for kids and it was a beautiful thing," Pixley said. "It's disappointing because the family is the whole community."

Pixley said last year, Pridefest had about 3,000 guests.

Waldroup said this year the options were to have the limitations or not have Pridefest at all.

Despite the changes, organizers encourage people to attend and support the event in whatever capacity it's available

"We're not protesting," P.J. Ashley, with Sanctuary LGBTQ+ Community Center, said. "We're coming out to show that we're not going to hide. We're going to show up we're going to enjoy each other. We're going to be one."

Ashley said a big impact of the change is that a lot of the volunteers were students from gay-straight alliance clubs at area schools.

"We've told them, 'You know what, this is this year. Things could change for next year,'" Ashley said. "I think the city is doing what they need to because the orders are coming down from higher up, and the city does need their liquor license. That's how things get paid for and the liquor license could be at jeopardy."

Pridefest is this Saturday at the Mid-Florida Event Center in Port St. Lucie from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast is hosting a family-friendly "Party in the Park," where the youth can celebrate who they are in conjunction with the Sanctuary of the Treasure Coast.