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Sun, fun & celebrities help Miami Beach Gay Pride shine bright

Miami Beach, FL — Miami Beach Gay Pride – a three-day, rainbow-filled, love-fest – is a fun, sun-soaked celebration of all things LGBT ...just don't wear any snazzy, high-dollar shoes.

The 2017 edition, held April 7-9, culminated with a 90-minute parade that was noticeably different from the Chicago Pride Parade.  

First, of course, the parade was much shorter.  I watched from a mid-way point and the last entrant had reached me an hour and a half later.  Second, there seemed to be less skin.  Sure seems that many entrants in the Chicago Pride Parade – from Sidetrack and most other Boystown bars, to Phoenix Bar & Nightclub from north suburban Elk Grove Village, and many others – are heavy on the scantily-clad float-riders.  Skin is in – in Chicago, seems to be the local motto.  Third, the Miami Beach Pride Parade featured a horse-drawn carriage, with two horses.  (Wish I saw who the entrant was, and how the horses tied in, but I didn't.)

Whistles seemed to be the thing, as so many parade entrants seemed to be chirping away.

Necklaces with Mardi Gras beads seemed commonplace, too.

Openly gay comedian, TV host and author Ross Mathews was the Miami Beach Gay Pride's Celebrity Grand Marshal – and he seemed to relish the role as he was driven in a convertible.  Mathews is a strong supporter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), speaking at many of its nationwide events and receiving the Visibility Award in 2011.  He also has hosted the GLAAD Media Awards, officiated a same-sex marriage from a float in the middle of Capital Pride in Washington D.C., and currently hosts "Hollywood Today Live."

Mathews was one of four individuals honored for their contributions to the LGBTQ community.  Bartender and cast member of iHeart Radio's "Elvis Duran and the Morning Show," 'Uncle' Johnny Pool, was the Advocate Marshal.  Advocates Liebe and Seth Gadinsky were the Ally Marshals.

Pool bartended at the world-famous Stonewall Inn in New York City in the 1960s, and was an active participant in the Stonewall Riots.  And he also sang to the masses after the parade, at the Pride Festival – which brings a flavor of Chicago's annual PrideFest, though held on the beach, not on a street.

And that's why I suggest skipping the snazzy shoes; they will get dirty and dusty.  Flip-flops seemed commonplace.

Singing sensation Bebe Rexha was the Pride Festival headline performer, with a Sunday evening stage show.

Pride Festival certainly was a lot of fun in the sun, with plenty of alcohol for the masses.  I also saw turkey legs being sold, but didn't stop to buy one.  The Pride Festival features about 100 vendors, two colorful entertainment stages, and more.

Rexha has more than 10 million sales of singles, 1 billion Spotify streams, and 1.3 billion combined YouTube/VEVO views.  She hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Pop and Rap charts with her Platinum-selling smash single "Me, Myself & I" with G-Eazy.  Her single "No Broken Hearts," featuring Nicki Minaj has more than 144 million YouTube/VEVO views, and she is featured on Martin Garrix's latest single "In The Name of Love."  Her most recent album, All Your Fault Part 1, was released earlier this year.

Other Pride Festival performances included Janice Robinson, PepperMint, Kym Sims, and Gigi Rowe, among others.

Related: Chicago native singer Kym Sims is set to 'Turn It Up!' in 2017

Miami Beach Pride has skyrocketed in popularity since 2009 – when an estimated 15,000 spectators at that first parade.  In 2016, that number was estimated at 130,000 – and the 2017 event no doubt surpassed that total.

So, not surprisingly, the local bars were jam-packed well into the wee hours of the morning.  And I'm sure some after-hours parties were going well after the sun rose on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Palace Bar & Grill was, of course, wall to wall with customers – and plenty of entertaining drag queens were walking, talking and, for one, back-flipping along the Ocean Drive stage.

Twist – which has a Sidetrack feel, as there are separate types of bars and/or rooms (think, salsa music or hip-hop) within the overall complex – was crammed throughout the weekend.  Twist is a multilevel complex with seven separate bars – and scantily-clad dancers galore in one.

Score was, well, Score.  Body to body and dancing well into the early morning hours.

Miami Beach Gay Pride is definitely worth a stop on any international Pride Tour.  The weather was amazing – 80s, sunny and not too hot or humid.  The organizers go all out to hit a home run – and certainly did in 2017.  And there was eye-candy from throughout the LGBT rainbow.

For more information about Miami Beach Gay Pride, go to: www.miamibeachgaypride.com.
 
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