St. Petersburg, Florida -- Gina Serkez has a lot of work to do to get ready for this weekend. The St. Pete Gay Pride festivities will march right in front of her bakery.
"It is the busiest day of the year for us, for walk-in traffic," she said. "It's amazing."
Thousands of cake lovers will walk by her shop in the next few days and that means delicious dollars in her pocket. A year ago, Serkez profited over $3,000 just on cupcakes.
It's the kind of economic spike new St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke about Thursday morning, as he raised the rainbow flag over City Hall.
"In years past, we've seen an economic impact of the parade and the activities in excess of $10 million," he told the crowd. "There are numbers I've heard this year that are anticipated in excess of $18 million."
It's a lot of money, but not everyone cashes in on gay pride. Next door to Serkez's cupcake shop, Judy Ferrara won't be making any money during the events.
"After being here for eight years on this block, this is one day a year I know that I can't be here," she said. "It's a tremendous economic boom on the city, but as an individual business owner, there's no benefit to me."
Her shop, near 22nd Street North and Central Avenue in St. Pete, is like many others on the parade route. The influx of people in that area forces them to close down operations until the festival is over.
Mayor Kriseman calls St. Pete "a city of inclusion and diversity." Many business owners will benefit from the extra people in town.
VIDEO: Full speech by St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman
Estimates show 150,000 people are expected to hit the Grand Central District for the parties, concerts and parades. The events begin Thursday night and continue through Sunday evening.
The expanded festival includes a Block Party on Saturday at 5 p.m. followed by the city's first illuminated LGBT Pride Parade around 8:30 p.m.
On Sunday, more than 300 vendors line Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival for a day of live music, food, and family fun. A full schedule of Pride events is available at www.stpetepride.com.
Saturday's first-ever illuminated Pride Parade steps off at sunset, approximately 8:30 p.m., from Third Ave. and 31st St. N., proceeding east to 30th St. N. The route continues south on 30th St. to Central Ave., turns east and continuing to 21th St. N., where units disband. Clear views of the Pride Parade for those needing accessibility accommodations will be available in the 23-2400 blocks of Central Ave. Temporary restrooms with accessible facilities are located along Central Ave. and in the Family Zone, in Seminole Park at 30th St. N. and Third Ave.
Motorists will experience traffic detours and delays both Saturday and Sunday in the Grand Central District, especially on Central Ave. between 21st and 28th Sts., which will be closed to traffic from Saturday afternoon and all day on Sunday. Motorists wishing to avoid traffic congestion are encouraged to use either First Avenues N. or S. or Fifth Avenues N. or S. for unimpeded east and west-bound travel.
On Saturday, Central Ave. will close to traffic at 2 p.m. in preparation for the Block Party, a "mini" street festival offering live music, food, and libations. At approximately 8:30 p.m., St. Petersburg's first illuminated night Pride Parade travels from 3100 Third Ave. N. to Central Ave., then travels east 10 blocks before dispersing at 21st St. Central Ave. will reopen to traffic around 10 p.m.
Parking restrictions will be in place beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. on Central Ave. between 21st and 28th Sts. until the event concludes at 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. Additionally, parking restrictions will be in effect along 30th St. N. and Third Ave. N. from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday.
Festival parking is available throughout the Grand Central District and the downtown area, as well as in designated lots. Visitors should avoid areas posted as No Parking, using only legal parking spaces and observing all posted regulations and avoiding tow away zones. Vehicle owners who normally park inside the event zone are encouraged to find alternate parking locations for the weekend to avoid citations and/or possible relocation. Accessible disabled parking spaces will be located on First Ave. N. between 23rd and 25th Sts. on a first come, first served basis.
An alternative for spectators is to leave their cars at home or park downtown and use public transportation, including PSTA buses and the Central Ave. Shuttle.
PSTA buses will run frequent routes along First avenues N. and S. throughout the weekend. Other PSTA routes serving the downtown area and Grand Central District are Routes 7, 18, 20, and 52.
Riders on other PSTA routes that normally operate in the Grand Central District may notice slight detours throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, the Central Avenue Shuttle operates on a slightly modified route this weekend to bypass Central Ave. Shuttle fares range from free, 50 cents or $2, depending on the boarding zone. Current route detour information is available at PSTA's Rider Alert page.