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Many of us have loved Mario Lopez for decades, first as A.C. Slater on the sitcom Saved by the Bell and more recently as host extraordinaire, a title he’s rightly earned. He’s been the host of such television series as America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV, The X Factor on FOX, and currently the celebrity newsmagazine Extra, which can be seen across Florida and nationwide in first-run syndication. Now he’s been welcomed with open arms in Miami Beach where he’s going to MarioLopez_copy1serve, along with his wife Courtney, as grand marshal in the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, which is certainly his most fabulous presenting role to date!

“We’re really looking forward to going down to Miami,” Mario Lopez said in a recent interview. “We’ll be there on Sunday, April 12 along Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th Streets. We love Miami, we love the people, the culture, all the Latinos down there, the food…I know it’s a beautiful time of year. We’re looking forward to the getaway and to be there for such a cool cause.”

Lopez is of course no stranger to special causes. He’s helped raise money in the past for the Best Friends Animal Society, Padres Contra el Cancer, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He’s also been very involved in gay causes and reached out very heavily to his gay fans. He’s embraced his gay following since the 1990s, when he made a star turn as the openly gay Olympic swimmer Greg Louganis in a 1997 made-for-TV movie. “I’m honored to be embraced by the gay community. They’re the smartest and the hippest. They determine what’s hot out there,” Mario Lopez said in a 2012 interview with The Advocate.

“First of all, I was honored that they asked me,” Lopez said when asked about why he felt it was important to participate in Miami Beach Gay Pride this year. “I said yes immediately. I was glad that the schedule had a hole in it that particular weekend. Everything seemed to line up. I like to lend my time to important causes and it’s first-class the way [Miami Beach Gay Pride organizers] run things down there. I know there’s going to be 100,000 people down there and MarioLopez_copy2live performances and all kinds of good food…it’s going to be a fun time.”

When talking about Miami, Lopez has said many times that he connects with the area in no small part due to the influence of Latinos in South Florida (Lopez, a native of San Diego, is Mexican-American). “Miami is one of the coolest cities in the country. There’s beautiful people there everywhere. It’s got so much culture and it’s alive. There’s wonderful music and food…it’s a very international city. It’s hip and cool and represents so much not only on the entertainment side [of things] but also on the fashion side. It’s a melting pot of all the folks that have congregated down there,” he said.

With someone who is as in love with Miami Beach as the locals are, it is natural to see why Mario Lopez and his wife were selected to be grand marshals in the gay pride parade. “I love the history and everything about [Miami], not to mention the awesome beaches, of course. If anyone hasn’t had an opportunity to visit Miami, I strongly suggest it. It’s something I always very much look forward to.” Now that’s a spokesman!

So will Lopez and his wife bring their two children on this trip? It looks like this rendezvous is just for the adults. “We’ve got a little ‘time out.’ We went to Texas to see a sister of mine…so now we need a little time out for mom and dad. That’s very important for our relationship too, MarioLopez_copy3but it makes us look forward to coming back home and be rejuvenated to handle the kids,” he said. One interesting note about Mario Lopez and his children, as it relates to Miami Beach Gay Pride: Mario’s wife and NBC 6 South Florida anchor Roxanne Vargas, who will serve as commentator for the parade on Sunday, were both pregnant at the same time and had their babies five days apart!

If you’d like to see Mario Lopez in action at Miami Beach Gay Pride, you can see him on Saturday, April 11 at noon. He will be participating in a press conference at the Vapor Shark Stage on Ocean and 11th. It is free to attend. On Sunday, April 12, he will be prominently featured in the parade which starts at noon. At 1:30 p.m., he will participate in the opening ceremonies with Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine at the Vapor Shark Stage, also free to attend.

You can catch Mario Lopez hosting Extra five days a week in first-run syndication (on stations WTVJ, WFLX, WKMG and WFLA in South and Central Florida). For more information on Extra, visit extratv.com. For more information on Mario Lopez, visit onwithmario.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarioLopezExtra.