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The Stonewall Festival is one of the biggest events Wilton Manors celebrates this year. Traditionally toward the end of June, the city has celebrated gay pride for the past sixteen years with a large parade followed by an equally impressive street festival. This year, organizers areWilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy1 hoping this will be a day you won’t soon forget. The festivities will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

With over 30,000 people expected to pack Wilton Drive during the festival, it will be important to note that a large portion of this thoroughfare will be shut down starting in the early morning hours of June 20. The afternoon will begin with the crowds perusing the festival marketplace. This consists of over 100 vendors and organizations wishing to get the word out about themselves to a crowd who will support them. You can expect to see quite a few local service organizations and even state developmental and governmental agencies. Services such as HIV testing will be accessible during the festival.

There will also be music and local celebrities to meet during the festival in the afternoon. There will be three stages set up: the main “center” stage, and two side stages in front of The Manor and Rumors, respectively. Those stages will have local entertainment performing throughout the day, such as female impersonators, DJs, singers, and more. In addition, there are also three Wilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy2radio stations that will be broadcasting live from the event. Near Sidelines Sports Bar, The Ticket 104.3 FM/790 AM (South Florida’s sports talk radio) will be broadcasting for a few hours, as will Lite 101.5 near the center stage, and Power 96 near the north side of the festival. Near center stage at the Lite 101.5 booth, you will get a chance to meet and take pictures with Louie, the adorable Lite Bear!

A lot of people love cheering and walking in the pride parade each year. This year the parade will be held shortly before dusk, starting at 6 p.m. and ending shortly after 7:30. Nearly three Wilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy3dozen floats and over a hundred groups will be marching, waving and throwing special presents to the onlookers. The grand marshal for this year’s parade is former baseball outfielder Billy Bean, who is the only openly gay Major League Baseball player, current or former, alive today. He is also the official Major League Baseball ambassador of inclusion.

Finally, the nighttime concert is, according to some, the most anticipated part of the Stonewall Festival. It will begin at 8 p.m., with most of the headliners performing directly on the center stage. This year’s headliners all bring something unique to the table and will make sure Wilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy4everyone in the audience is entertained.

The first headliner is R&B girl group En Vogue. Sometimes a trio, sometimes a quartet, the group is led de facto by Terry Ellis, who is the only member of the group to stay the course from the band’s formation back in 1989 to today. Dance diva Crystal Waters, who broke through to the mainstream in the early 1990s with “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” and has since had numerous singles chart highly on the Billboard dance charts, will also be performing on center stage. Maxine Nightingale, a well-known disco performer whose hits include “Right Back Where We Started From,” “Love Hit Me” and “Lead MeWilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy5 On,” will be on center stage as well.

Additional headlining performers include Venus D’Lite, a nationally-known Madonna impersonator who you may remember from season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Miami native Shemuwel will open for En Vogue on center stage at the beginning of the evening. German-born and Miami-based singer-songwriter Pris Maverick is also going to perform for the crowds.

If you’re looking for parking, you have two options. Public parking costs $15 and there are a number of public lots available for your use. There’s the 8th Terrace Lot, on the corner of NE Wilton-Manors-Stonewall_copy68th Terrace and NE 26th Street, the City Hall parking lot, the Fort Lauderdale High School parking lot, the Iberia Bank parking lot (at 2465 Wilton Drive), the Municipal Complex parking lot on Dixie Highway, and Richardson Park. A reserved spot, which will allow people in and out privileges, will cost $40 and those spots are available at Hagen Park.

You are also invited to purchase drink tickets in advance by going to wiltonmanorsstonewall.com and picking up your tickets the day of the festival, saving you the time and hassle of having to stand in long lines to buy your tickets in the afternoon sun. Each ticket is valued at $4.

Hotspots Media Group is a proud sponsor of the Wilton Manors Stonewall Festival. For more information, visit wiltonmanorsstonewall.com.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.