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Wilton Manors Prepares For Stonewall Parade And Street Festival With Increased Security, Memorial After Orlando Nightclub Shooting

Wilton Manors officials plan to ramp up security at Saturday’s Stonewall Parade and Street Festival in light of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 

Discussions about increasing security options at the LGBT pride parade have been going on for six months​, according to Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O'Connell​, but recent events solidified the decision. 

“Following the Orlando shooting last weekend, we have received an outpouring of support from various law enforcement agencies and will be partnering with many of them for extra manpower to significantly increase security throughout the Stonewall Festival,” he said.

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The annual parade and festival commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, considered to be the jumping-off point for the LGBT rights movement in the United States. 

The festival typically draws about 30,000 attendees, with some traveling from other counties, states and even nations, according to organizers. After last weekend's tragedy, organizers expect up to 40,000 people to come out and show their support.

In honor of the 49 people killed at the LGBT-friendly Orlando nightclub, 49 volunteers from nonprofit Latinos Salud will each carry a sign with the name and age of one of the victims.

Moreover, 49 white balloons will line the festival's three entertainment stages. As the volunteers pass each stage, they will release the memorial balloons.

“Hate will not win. Love and equality will, and that is what Stonewall is all about," Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick said. "Our community must remain strong. Wilton Manors is not just a physical address; we are the heart and soul of the LGBT community.”

Festival attendees can also sign a special remembrance scroll that will be sent to Orlando. Guests are encouraged to stop by the Stonewall National Museum's gallery on Wilton Drive from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m Saturday to write a message of support. The scroll will also be on-site at Parker Playhouse for the City of Fort Lauderdale's memorial service on Friday at 1 p.m.

As usual, the Stonewall Parade and Street Festival will offer a family-friendly village at Hagen Park, with face-painting, bounce houses and live music starting at 11 a.m.; the outdoor festival and marketplace opening at 3 p.m.; and the celebratory Stonewall Parade, which will head down Wilton Drive at 6 p.m.

The event will continue with live performances by Kat Riggins, Carlito Olivero and several DJ acts until 11 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of the City of Wilton Manors)