On the heels of last week’s hugely successful Party at the Pantheon the night before, Vero Pride organizers extended the festivities with a Sunday Funday Pridefest at Heaton’s Reef at the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa.
“Sunday Funday has a long tradition in the LGBTQ community,” explained Shelley Adelle. “Back in the day, with so many gays working as bartenders and waiters, everyone would get together on Sunday and relax.”
Adelle is the co-founder, with Stephanie Hocke and Katie Gastley, of Amendment One Activists (A1A), an activism-based organization that promotes amendment rights, equal rights, diversity and inclusion through community outreach and events such as these.
“We provide the volunteer and logistical support because we believe in it,” said Adelle. “Last year we raised more money than we needed and we turned that into a Pride Scholarship.”
Maya Snead, a graduate of Indian River Charter High School, was awarded the $1,000 scholarship for her essay in answer to the question, “What does diversity mean to me?”
Adelle said that there was so much interest in last year’s Pride Party that roughly 100 people had to be turned away from the sold-out event. Anticipating that they would have the same issue this year, they brainstormed to come up with other ways for people to participate.
“We wanted to see how else we could make this more inclusive, because that’s the whole idea,” she added.
So when Heaton’s Reef offered up the space for a family-friendly ‘friend-raiser’ beach party and poolside barbecue cookout, they welcomed the opportunity. A lovely breeze off the ocean kept things comfortable as attendees took dips in the ocean, played volleyball and Jenga, or sat by the pool to enjoy a delicious buffet and, of course, a few Bloody Marys.
“This is the first time they’ve ever had a DJ on the beach and I’m sure it’s the first time there have been Pride Flags on the beach,” said Adelle, pointing to the colorful rainbow flags flying in the breeze.
“So it’s groundbreaking in many ways.”
June as LGBT Pride Month had its start in recognition of the June 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in New York City, which ushered in the nationwide movement for equality for LGBT Americans. Pride Month is now celebrated worldwide.
A1A organizers said they would like to establish events throughout the year and are seeking feedback and ideas from the community.