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Pride on the Beach returns to Long Beach

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Pride on the Beach is returning to Long Beach next month, and survivors of the Parkland, Fla. shooting will lead the parade as grand marshals.

The three-day festival, organized by the LGBT Network, will feature a special Parkland memorial, a parade, a beach concert, a carnival, a 5K run, a Shabbat service and a boat parade, among other events throughout the weekend. The festivities are scheduled for June 8, 9 and 10.

About 5,000 people flooded the streets and donned rainbow attire last summer as residents and visitors marched in the city’s first Pride parade, which had previously taken place in Huntington.

David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of the LGBT Network and co-founder of the Long Island Pride parade, joined Nassau County Executive Laura Curran at a news conference on Monday to announce the special guests — 25 students and five school officials from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who will serve as grand marshals of the 28th annual Long Island Pride Parade.

The students and teachers will attend a special tribute that will highlight the life of Long Island native Scott Beigel, who died saving his Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. Curran said it would be New York’s largest tribute to those lost in the Parkland tragedy.

“For me, my big thing is just keeping the memories alive of all the victims, especially Scott,” said Gwen Gossler, Beigel’s fiancée. “I think to have the MSD students as grand marshal and then have that extra tribute for Scott, since he’s from Long Island, is very special.”

Additionally, the county plans to display the Pride flag and, for the first time, showcase a rainbow dome on the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building.

“Under the courageous and bold leadership of County Executive Laura Curran, Long Island is taking a huge leap forward in the visibility and support of its LGBT families in Nassau County,” Kilmnick said. “The lighting of the dome in rainbow colors and flying the Pride flag is more than just a symbolic measure. It sends a loud and clear message that the closet door in local government that has kept LGBT people invisible for so long is being torn down. A new Nassau has arrived, and it finally includes the voices, lives and experiences of LGBT people.”

Organizers of the festival expect more than 30,000 people from across the country to attend. Funds raised will benefit the LGBT Network’s anti-bullying programs in Long Island and New York City schools.

“Long Beach was honored to host the very successful Long Island Pride last year,” City Council President Anthony Eramo said in a statement. “We are looking forward to continuing the tradition with another phenomenal weekend this year. Long Beach is a wonderful family-friendly destination to visit, and the City Council is proud to represent such an extremely inclusive community. For 2018, we have again made every effort to ensure the event is safe, fun and an overall positive experience for Long Beach residents, businesses and our visitors.”

The city said it received $150,000 in reimbursements from the LGBT Network for last year’s events — actual expenses including overtime and contractual services came out to about $152,000.

Kilmnick said the LGBT Network received a state grant this year for $103,000. Last year, there were more than 4,000 additional riders on the Long Island Rail Road on the day of the parade, and some businesses reported that it was their highest grossing day throughout the summer, he said.

“There are over 35 businesses in Long Beach that are signed up to offer Pride specials and different parties,” Kilmnick said. “It’s an economic driver that will help the city and the businesses grow their revenue and participate.”

Kilmnick said it will cost more than $20,000 to fly the guests up to New York from Florida and provide them with hotel rooms, and that the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association has donated $5,000 toward that cost.  

Heavy traffic is expected in the city on June 8 and 9, and larger crowds are expected to fill the beach park at Long Beach Boulevard on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on June 10 from 1 to 6 p.m. There will be road closures on Sunday during the Pride parade, which will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. Those marching will move down Broadway starting at Lafayette Boulevard.

The city will provide free parking in the LIRR parking garage, extra bus service and open air trolley service to the beach and around the city, which is free with a beach pass.

Additionally, there will be enhanced public transportation service for Pride on the Beach weekend, including increased Long Island Rail Road service to and from Long Beach. Many parking locations have been secured, including fields in Point Lookout, Lido Beach, Long Beach middle and high schools, Nickerson Beach Park and Maliblue Oyster Bar. Free shuttle service will be provided to downtown Long Beach throughout the weekend by the LGBT Network.

For more information, visit www.prideonthebeach.org.