| Charles Wolf the Photographer

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Polk Pride Week is back for its sixth year with a theme of “Prouder than Ever” and events spanning June 11 to June 18.

Polk Pride Week makes a declaration Polk County, Florida, is a place where LGBTQ+ people are welcomed, accepted, and embraced,” said Polk Pride founder and President Scott Guira.

Here’s the lineup of the events planned this year. 

Pride in the Park

The week culminates with its biggest event: Pride in the Park. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 18 in Munn Park, and Guira said there will be more vendors and activities than ever before.

It’s expected to attract thousands of people, according to Guira, and will include more than 100 vendors, kids activities, music and drag performances.

“It is our largest event, and we welcome everyone,” said Scott Guira.

The vendors will range from churches, Pride gear merchants, artists, artisan food items, local businesses and non-profits, Guira said.

The audience and vendor booths at Pride in the Park 2019. | Charles Wolf the Photographer

Food trucks will be providing much of the food, besides the local restaurants surrounding the park.

A schedule of performers has not been announced.

Parking is free throughout downtown Lakeland on Saturday.

Guira said the event will be dog and stroller friendly.

Pride on Tap

This kickoff event will be held on Saturday, June 11, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Swan Brewing, 115 W. Pine St. This event is reserved for people 21 or older, according to the Polk Pride website.

Pride for Youth Skate Party

The Lakeland Youth Alliance Pride for Youth Skate Party is being held Wednesday, June 15, at Skate World, 911 N. Lake Parker Ave., starting at 6:30 p.m. The party is catered to youth ages 11-20, according to the Polk Pride website. Admission is free.

“It will include a drag show and is exclusive to youth participants,” Guira said, adding that parents can drop off their kids if they like.

Pride in Faith

Pride in Faith will be held on Thursday, June 16, starting at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Fellowship, 220 W. Beacon Road.

“It’s an Interfaith service organized by Beacon Hill Fellowship, Christ’s Promise Church, and Unitarian Universalist that declares that the LGBT community is loved, affirmed, embraced and welcomed by the faith community,” Guira said.

Pride Weekend Kickoff

Pride Weekend Kickoff will be held at The Parrot, 1030 E. Main St., on Friday, June 17, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s a social event reserved for anyone 21 and older. It will also include a drag queen show.

Pride after Dark

This is the closing party for Polk Pride 2022. It will be held Saturday, June 18 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at The Parrot, 1030 E. Main St. This event is for people ages 21 and older. 

Parading at 2019’s Pride in the Park | Charles Wolf the Photographer

Guira hopes the Polk Pride festivities impart on the community that “LGBTQ+ people are part of this community and that diversity [is] part of every successful, vibrant, and growing community.”

This year, local governments expected to issue proclamations in support of Polk Price Week are the cities of Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Auburndale, Davenport and the Polk County Commission and Polk School Board, Guira said.

Guira said Lake Wales recently pulled the proclamation in support of Polk Pride Week from its city commission meeting agenda without giving a reason.

“We at Polk Pride are disappointed that the city of Lake Wales has chosen not to make a proclamation of Polk Pride Week. At Polk Pride, we know that diversity and inclusion are vital to creating a vibrant and welcoming community. We will continue to work diligently to ensure every community in Polk County is a place for all,” Guira said.

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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  1. More indoctrination of our children. Surprised that Skate World is allowing this to happen. Parents aren’t allowed to attend & there will be a drag show. Wake up people. So sad.

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