🏳️‍🌈 Seaside Heights' first Pride Festival begins Friday evening

🏳️‍🌈 Mayor Tony Vaz is encouraged by the track record of other NJ Pride festivals

🏳️‍🌈 A sea breeze will keep temperatures comfortable at the shore

SEASIDE HEIGHTS — A new Pride festival will debut Saturday at the Jersey Shore.

Seaside Pride begins Friday evening with a community paint event. A day full of events starts with yoga on the Seaside Stage at 8 a.m. followed by Zumba.  A drag brunch, kite fly, concerts and the "loud and proud" party are also planned for the festival into the evening. The first official Seaside Heights bon fire in five years is also planned for Saturday night.

Mayor Tony Vaz said the borough was approached by organizer Jenn Stefanacci Portier about having an event in March, which got support from the Borough Council. The borough is providing the location and the event's planners will do the rest.

"We're hosting; they're going to provide the activity's events. So they're using our stage on the boardwalk, we'll have tables set up for them," Vaz told New Jersey 101.5.

"They've worked with the business community to have entertainment and so forth. It should be a good weekend with the weather being good. And we should draw a lot of people to the activities."

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Seaside Pride event schedule
Seaside Pride event schedule (Seaside Pride)

A great day for a Pride festival

Vaz said that Seaside Heights is always looking for ways to invite people to safely enjoy the community and this seemed to be a positive event.

"We want it to be a safe community. Their past history in other communities have been very favorable. So we said this will be great for us," Vaz said.

Portier told New Jersey 101.5 she grew up in Toms River and bartender in Seaside Heights.  She now lives in Key West, Florida and returned to Seaside Heights to bartend a few days a week in summer 2023.

"I realize there's no representation of the LGBTQ+ community. It's here, but it's not represented. I kept saying 'we need to have a pride event.' People put me in touch with (Seaside Heights business administrator) Christ Vaz and from there we started working together," Portier said, adding that she also connected with Evan Phalon from the Toms River Pride Festival

As a member of the business guild in Key West she's been involved with Pride events in Key West and has big plans for future Pride events in Seaside Heights.

"I think bringing different events celebrating everyone knowing that everyone is included is the most important thing. That's why we're doing this," Portier said. "We wanna do the first LGBTQ+ surf competition. We wanna do a 5K. We wanna do a vendor street fair. But this year is the first year. Let's see what works, let's see what doesn't and let's grow from there."

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that while temperatures soar into the mid-90s on Saturday, the sea breeze will keep it cooler along the boardwalk. There could be a shower or thunderstorm that pops up late Saturday afternoon.

Upcoming Pride events in New Jersey

Saturday, June 22:

Wednesday, June 26:

Friday, June 28:

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