LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — The message at Sunday’s Palm Beach Pride celebration in Lake Worth Beach was clear: “We say gay!”
The festival, hosted by the Compass LGBTQ Community Center, started with a parade up Lake Avenue, ending at Bryant Park. There, several local and state officials spoke about gay and transgender rights in Florida, and then Palm Beach County Clerk of Court Joseph Abruzzo officiated a mass wedding of 30 couples.
“It is truly a pleasure for me to — you know what, it is awesome! It is awesome to be here! It’s truly a pleasure for me and the entire clerk team to be part of this event,” Abruzzo told a crowd of several thousand at the wedding ceremony. “Now it’s time to move into the reason we’re all here — an exchange of vows and celebration of these wonderful couples.”
Abruzzo asked the couples if they’d love and cherish each other and bring each other joy as long as they live. He then pronounced the 30 couples legally married.
After their first kisses as married couples, the crowd erupted in cheers and confetti rained down on stage area of the park.
Vinnie Primerano, 69, remarried Tony D’Amico, 69, at the festival. The couple originally married in Provincetown, Rhode Island, about 10 years ago after being together for 25 years. They talked about remarrying in Florida and finalized that Sunday afternoon.
“This was nice because this is a whole new family for us. We’ve been here for a little over 10 years, Primerano said. “It’s always exciting when they say something like that, you know, ‘it’s official.’ Especially with so many officials here and especially at the end of a pride parade.”
“This is our home now. We live down here and wouldn’t change it for the world,” D’Amico said.
The couple’s 10-year-old Shih Tzu Daisy served as their maid of honor.
Among the public officials that spoke included Nikki Fried, Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor. She spoke of her creation of Florida’s first LGBT Advocate position and urged people to register to vote and show up at the ballot boxes.
“We have a governor that’s trying to divide us. That’s trying to put fear into us and hatred,” Fried said, leading the crowd to boo. “This is what democracy looks like. We are showing up. We are telling them that you will not keep us down.“
Between Saturday and Sunday, about 30,000 people attended the parade, wedding and festival, according to Michael Riordan, marketing director for Compass.
“It’s a success in every sense of the word, especially when you consider what’s going on in Florida, politically, right now; the opposition to being themselves, being authentic, loving who they love. For all these people to come out in defiance of that has been unbelievably amazing to see.”