By John Hayden
A party at sea and a party on land, mark the return of FLoatarama, a flotilla celebrating South Florida’s LGBTQA+ boating community. Dozens of boats decked out in pride-themed colors will make their way down the New River starting at Stranahan House and sail to Sunrise Bay on June 12, 2021. “We are going to be the kickoff event to Stonewall Wilton Manors,” FLoatarama founder Scott Schramm told OutClique. “The timing is perfect for us. We are literally the first [Pride] event back. It’s gonna be us then Stonewall Pride. The first FLoatarama was Pride weekend 2020, when everything was cancelled.” Patrick Parker and Scott, both members of Boys With Boats, realized boating is one of the best ways to have safe, socially distant fun and came up with the idea of having a few festive boats get together for a mini-parade. Between word of mouth and social media, the event took on a life of its own. Scott added, “If we got six boats I’d be happy. We showed up and there were 24 boats. It just blew me away.”
Scott got nervous for a moment because as the event was getting underway a couple police boats pulled up, but they were there to support, not shut things down. They put pride flags on their boats and provided some unexpected, and much appreciated, security. Scott believes that sense of community is what brings events like this to the next level. If the pictures from last year’s low key event are any indication, then this year’s water party is going to be amazing.
With vaccinations on the rise and people feeling more comfortable going out, this year’s FLoatarama is going from a loose idea for an afternoon to a well-organized two-day event. A double decker water taxi will be the lead boat with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis as Grand Marshal. That vessel will be the main party barge as well. Tickets for the water taxi are $25 and a cash bar will be serving up cocktails for party goers cruising past the reviewing stand and all through South Florida’s gorgeous waterways.
With up to 40 boats in the flotilla and thousands of supporters cheering from miles of shoreline, this could feel like a bunch of fragmented mini-parties. To solve this problem organizers are bringing everyone together with music. Legendary DJ Matt Consola is coming in for the event. He’s customizing a podcast just for FLoatarama. Everyone from the lead boat to the last ship to people watching on shore can groove to the same jams at the same time.
Once the flotilla reaches Sunrise Bay the boats will have a raft up party to end Day One. Day Two promises to be just as much fun. Sunday, June 13, 2021, is the Sailors T-Dance at Sanctuary Church at 1400 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. DJ Matt Consola will be back to get the Sunday Funday party started spinning his music at the water’s edge.
This year FLoatarama is partnering with Pride Fort Lauderdale to make this a good party for a good cause. Money raised will go to their GED and Scholarship programs. Specifically, they’ll help transgender students change their chosen name to their legal name so their GED will be a reflection of their true identity. “Our partnership with Pride Fort Lauderdale allows us to utilize the knowledge and strength of the Pride organization,” organizers said, “and connect with LGBTQ+ boaters and friends that celebrate diversity within our boating community.”
Scott agreed by adding, “I think this is a great opportunity for the LGBT boating community to actively participate in Pride and be represented.”
Space in the flotilla, on the lead boat water taxi, and tickets to the Sailors T-Dance are limited. For event details you can check out their page at FLoatarama.com.
Scott believes people are getting excited. “People just want these kinds of events that are not just bar events. People are hungry to go out and have fun again. Go dance and listen to music.”