Billed as "The Hottest Winter in the World," the world-renowned six-day festival known as Winter Party Festival is a beach bonanza of beach and pool parties, art and cultural events, and 11 dance parties, culminating in Sunday's Beach Party attended by over 5,000 participants from around the world.
Founded in 1994 to fight an antigay ballot initiative, Miami Beach's Winter Party Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary on Sunday afternoon with a seven-hour beach party at Miami Beach's Lummus Park on 12th Street and Ocean Drive. During its 20-year history, the festival has raised more than $2.5 million for South Florida LGBT organizations.
Since 1973, the Task Force has been a leader in helping to advance legislation to enable equality for LGBT people and their families. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Task Force played a pivotal role in the passage of marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington in the 2012 election.
The Task Force's eight-year involvement with Winter Party Festival has generated proceeds of nearly $1.4 million, which have been distributed to more than two dozen organizations serving LGBT people in South Florida.
More than 500 volunteers help produce the spectacular weeklong celebration. Celebrity guests throughout the festival included Jessica Clark, star of television's "True Blood," as well as "Good Morning America" weather anchor Sam Champion and husband Rubem Robierb. Sponsors included Showtime, Grey Goose, Coca-Cola, and 42 Below Vodka.
As Carey attested, "We celebrate and simultaneously raise funds to help us achieve equality. [Winter Party Festival] is our party with a purpose."
Conveying the altruistic spirit of the festival, Winter Party founder Ignacio Martinez-Ybor said, "I like to think that we were not just the founders of Winter Party; we were the first four volunteers."