Thursday, February 5, 2009

Downturn Sinks Tampa Gay Pride

Breaking News
February 5, 2008

TAMPA — Organizers of Winter Pride Tampa Bay this week canceled its annual gay festival, saying they were unable to raise enough money for the event.

"We're devastated," said Winter Pride spokesman Zeke Fread. "We hated to drop it at the last minute, but it just didn't pan out."

Members of Tampa's gay community started the festival in 2006 in response to Hillsborough County's decision not to recognize gay pride events. The celebration outgrew its first location, Lowry Park Zoo, after more than 5,000 people attended. The second event drew nearly 10,000.

This year's festival was scheduled for Feb. 28 at Al Lopez Park. Thousands from throughout west Florida were expected to attend.

Fread blamed the poor economy and costly fight against Amendment 2, in which voters defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. Festival organizers had lined up some sponsors but raised less than half of the estimated $25,000 needed to pay for insurance, display tents and other expenses, he said.

Since the announcement, hundreds of supporters have contacted Winter Pride asking how to help. Organizers hope to bring back the event for 2010.

"We're optimistic because now have a year to plan," he said. "We'll come back bigger than ever."

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