Gulfport Pride Ride Lights Up the Night

Part of the route through the city took peddlers through a loop between the Gulfport Marina and the Clam Bayou Nature Preserve. In this special effects photo, a tripod and slow shutter speed were used to make sure the background and street were sharp while people in motion would be blurred showing off the colored light decorations on their bikes.

Melinda Shook was the first to arrive at about 7:40 p.m. on Friday, June 21 at the Gulfport Recreation Center, 5730 Shore Boulevard.

“I got an invitation from the first lady of Gulfport and you don’t say ‘No’ to that!” she said.

Others found out about it on social media, by word of mouth or in the Gabber.

“It’s low key and we didn’t ask for any city services,” said Laura Henderson, Mayor Sam Henderson’s wife who is also known as “FLOG” or “the first lady of Gulfport.”

She is the motivation behind a grassroots effort that is celebrating its second year – the Gulfport Pride Ride, a lighted night bike parade through Gulfport.

“It’s a gathering of citizens that want to celebrate Gay Pride in this way,” said Henderson. “We’re the Gateway to the Gulf and I feel like in some ways, we’re also a gateway to St. Petersburg. A whole lot of people from Gulfport go to St. Petersburg for Pride activities.”

The weekend of Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23 was the annual LGBT Pride parade and street festival in downtown St. Petersburg.

Gulfport’s Pride Ride is “something fun, easy and cheap,” said Henderson.

The first year, the bike parade happened before sunset so it was hard to see the decorative lights, she said. Also, it went through all four wards so “it was ambitious.”

This year, the event began at sunset at the Recreation Center with about 50 peddlers following a more condensed route south of 22nd Avenue S. from 8:30 p.m. to about 9:15 p.m.

“It’s doable for everybody and we had an opportunity to see everybody’s lights,” said Henderson. “It’s just for fun!”

Before the parade began, riders took the opportunity to socialize, compare battery-operated lights and other decorations.

Gulfport Gecko Queen Jon Ziegler went all out in decorating for the parade using four strings of lights on his bike and one on the official crown. The lights he chose change color that reflect the colors in the LGBT Pride flag.

On Friday, June 21, about 50 peddlers joined in the fun for the second Gulfport Pride Ride, which is a grassroots lighted bike parade at night celebrating Gay Pride.



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