ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (970 WFLA) – This weekend St. Petersburg’s Grand Central and Kenwood neighborhoods welcome thousands of visitors celebrating global diversity during the 12th annual St. Pete Pride Festival June 28-29. The expanded festival includes a block party on Saturday at 5 p.m. followed by the city's first illuminated LGBT pride parade around 8:30 p.m.

About 120,000 people attended the festival in 2013. This year they expect more. Each year, the festival brings in about $10 million to the local economy.

For the first time in the city’s history, Mayor Rick Kriseman will lead a delegation of city employees along with units From St. Petersburg Police and St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue along Central Avenue District 4 City Council Member Darden Rice will ride in the 263-unit parade as a grand marshal. The St. Pete Pride Parade is the largest LGBT parade both in St. Petersburg and in Florida and is one of the largest in the nation. On Sunday, more than 300 vendors line Central Avenue during the St. pete pride street festival for a day of live music, food, and family fun. CLICK HERE to see a full schedule of pride events. 

Drivers will experience traffic detours and delays both Saturday and Sunday in the Grand Central District, especially on Central Avenue between 21st and 28th streets, which will be closed to traffic from Saturday afternoon and all day on Sunday. Drivers who want to avoid traffic congestion should use either First Avenues N. or S. or Fifth Avenues N. or S. for unimpeded east and west-bound travel.

On Saturday, Central Avenue will close to traffic at 2 p.m. in preparation for the block party, a "mini" street festival offering live music, food, and libations. At approximately 8:30 p.m., St. Petersburg's First Illuminated Night Pride Parade travels from 3100 third Ave. N. to Central Ave., then travels east 10 blocks before dispersing at 21st St.Central Ave. It will reopen to traffic around 10 p.m.

Parking restrictions will be in place beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. on Central Ave. between 21st and 28th streets until the event concludes at 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. Additionally, parking restrictions will be in effect along 30th St. N. and Third Ave. N. from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

On Sunday, Central Ave will close to traffic beginning at 8 a.m. for the street festival, which begins at 11 a.m. with more than 300 exhibitors, live music, food and family fun. Parking restrictions from Saturday night continue through Sunday until 8 p.m.

Parade route: Saturday's first-ever Illuminated Pride Parade steps off at sunset, approximately 8:30 p.m., from Third Ave. and 31st Street N., proceeding east to 30th St. N. The route continues south on 30th St. to Central Ave., turns east and continuing to 21st St. N., where units disband. Clear views of the pride parade for those needing accessibility accommodations will be available in the 23-2400 blocks of Central Ave. Temporary restrooms with  accessible facilities are located along Central Ave. and in the family zone, in Seminole Park at 30th St. N. and Third Ave.

Parking: Festival parking is available throughout the grand central district and the downtown area, as well as in designated lots. Visitors should avoid areas posted as no parking, using only legal parking spaces and observing all posted regulations and avoiding tow away zones. Vehicle owners who normally park inside the event zone are encouraged to find alternate parking locations for the weekend to avoid citations and/or possible relocation. Accessible disabled parking spaces will be located on First Ave. N. between 23rd and 25th streets on a first come, first served basis.

An alternative for spectators is to leave their cars at home or park downtown and use public transportation, including PSTA buses and the Central Avenue shuttle. PSTA buses will run frequent routes along first Aves. N. And S. throughout the weekend. Other PSTA routes serving the downtown area and Grand Central District are routes 7, 18, 20, and 52. Riders on other PSTA routes that normally operate in the grand central district may notice slight detours throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, the central avenue shuttle operates on a slightly modified route this weekend to bypass Central Ave. shuttle fares range from free, 50 cents or $2, depending on the boarding zone. Current route detour information is available at PSTA's rider alert page.

The public must observe all conditions of the street closure permit issued to St. Pete pride event organizers, including a designated area for free speech, size limits, display of hand-held signage, and use of amplified sound during  the two-day festival. Persons wishing to use amplified sound and/or hand-held signs or banners extending beyond their torso or mounted on sticks or other rigid objects will be permitted to do so on 27th street where it fronts Central Ave. sidewalks. These designated areas are located on 27th street only - north of the Central Ave. northern sidewalk and south of the Central Ave. southern sidewalk or anywhere outside the permitted area.  Copies of the street closure permit and additional permit conditions will be posted at the event. Event maps are available by CLICKING HERE.

Photo Credit 970 WFLA/K. Norman