A small Florida town hosts a pride event, infuriating parents with “inappropriate” entertainment.

Venice is normally a sleepy Florida town where retirees flock during the winter months.

But on Nov. 12, the Saturday Farmer’s Market in a downtown park was replaced by the city’s first Pride Community Festival.

Some in the community were outraged by the behavior they saw and told The Epoch Times it was obscene and inappropriate for children to view.

And they were also angry that the principal of what is considered the best public school in the area was connected to the event.

Billed as a way for LGBT residents to let others in the community know “we are here”, the festival featured several booths aimed at children.

One included a ring-tossing game using battery-operated sex toys as targets, a detail verified by The Epoch Times through photos and videos.

And while the kids watched, drag artists pranced throughout the area, as videos reviewed by The Epoch Times showed.

A man, clad only in tiny fluorescent green briefs and silver high heels, performed pole dancing maneuvers on a lamp post.

He also performed a provocative, high-touch lap dance on a woman while children were nearby.

The busty drag performer known as Georgia Moore strutted through the park, lip-synching and dancing in a skintight rainbow dress and voluminous blonde wig.

Parents in the area told The Epoch Times they were disturbed to read on festival flyers that the artist spends weekdays in classrooms as a high school history teacher, who insists on a “safe space for his students” and “he believes in saying gay when he can.”

As families sat on the grass and watched Georgia Moore perform, another man danced nearby wearing only tiny underpants covered in a flowing piece of tulle.

Bridget Ziegler, a member of the Sarasota County School Board, said she was shocked to see them “twirling and twerking” at each other.

“I can’t imagine bringing my kids to something like this,” Ziegler told The Epoch Times.

Era Times photo
Children play in the Kids Korner set up by Fifth Third Bank as two men nearby, clad only in their underwear and high heels, use a lamppost to perform pole dance maneuvers during a Pride community festival November 12, 2022 in Venice, Florida. (Courtesy of Kayden Cokely)

She was particularly appalled by the ring toss game and said she was “afraid to know what the prizes were.”

“It’s inappropriate to have… I can’t even pronounce the word,” she said, fumbling to describe the targets for the tossed rings. “I’m not comfortable saying what was involved in that ring toss game.”

It was especially concerning, he said, at “a daytime festival aimed at children. It’s so strange.

As a mother, she was amazed that parents brought their children to the event, she said.

Melissa Bakondy’s husband stopped by the park and when he saw drag performers and rainbow flags, he urged her to see the show for herself.

“I left my kids with a babysitter just to see what was going on,” Bakondy told The Epoch Times.

The entertainment lineup wasn’t checked properly, he said.

When she saw the drag performers groping customers and each other, she went to the Venice Police Headquarters to file a complaint.

They told her “there was nothing they could do,” she said.

“I thought there were definitely obscenity laws that had been broken,” Bakondy said. “But I was told they didn’t have a real victim and they were backwards.”

When the event was spotlighted on Twitter by LibsofTikTok, it caught the attention of General Michael Flynn, who served as National Security Advisor under former President Donald Trump. He wrote on Telegram that he saw photos and videos of the event.

“When you fail to make your way into our public schools, you seemingly take to the streets,” she wrote. “Unacceptable.”

The City Council of Venice approved the festival in June. However, it took many residents by surprise, said Tanya Parus, president of the Sarasota County chapter of Moms for America.

Era Times photo
On November 12, 2022, a Pride Community Festival was held in a downtown park in Venice, Florida, featuring drag artists and provocative children’s games. (Courtesy of Kayden Cokely)

The city has also approved Venice Pride for participation in this city’s upcoming annual Christmas parade, he said. As a result, his family may not be attending this year.

“I drove past Centennial Park and had to do a double take,” Parus told The Epoch Times. “I couldn’t believe my eyes as the drag queens groped each other, as well as the customers in the audience. This is not my idea of ​​family friendly as advertised.”

He is not opposed to homosexuality, he said. But exposing children to “sexually explicit stuff” is unacceptable, she said.

“My only problem with this is that it shouldn’t be on display for kids to see,” she said. “They should never see it. It is age-inappropriate and children should not see it.

After attending the event, Parus said she went online to find out more about what was going on. She was surprised to see that County Dean of the Year Stephen Covert was associated with the event.

Covert leads the public Pine View School, a magnet program for gifted students. She is also assistant treasurer for CAN Community Health, a 30-year-old, national, Sarasota-based non-profit organization dedicated to serving “the HIV community.”

The organization’s booth attracted festival-goers with the controversial game of ring toss.

Era Times photo
A CAN Community Health-sponsored booth offered a provocative ring-toss game that enticed kids and shocked parents in Venice, Florida on Nov. 12, 2022. (Courtesy of Kayden Cokely)

“This is the same man,” Parus fumed, “who motivated students to hold a ‘pride walkout day’ to protest” the parental rights in education bill.

As a board member of CAN, Covert should have known that the ring toss game would be wrong for an event rated “family-friendly,” Bakondy said. He should have publicly condemned it as inappropriate, she added.

“If he can’t make a public statement, that tells you he thinks he can sweep it under the rug,” Bakondy said.

She shared her feelings about the festival and the principal’s connection at the Sarasota County School Board meeting on Nov. 15.

She said “it was shut down because I said something about how they need to investigate and get a statement from him,” she said. “They cut off my mic and excused me because it wasn’t an item on the agenda.”

Covert needs to be “investigated and possibly fired,” Bakondy said.

The Epoch Times asked Covert and the Sarasota County Superintendent of Public Schools for comment. Neither of them answered.

Era Times photo
The Venice, Florida parents say the Pride Community Festival in their city on Nov. 12, 2022, was anything but “family-friendly.” (Courtesy of Kayden Cokely)

“I could say, no problem, and look the other way, but then that’s not what we’re called to do,” said resident Michelle Pozzie.

She was furious, she said, because people should be able to “go to a park on Saturdays with their family and not have to put their hands on their kids’ eyes.”

After the event, Pozzie saw video clips and pictures and was “shocked,” she said. She wonders if the event violated any local obscenity laws. If so, she said, the Venice Pride board should be held accountable.

Under Covert’s leadership, Pine View School is recognized as one of the best in the area, the state, and even the country, Ziegler said. Teach children in grades 2-12.

Passions flared as people spoke out for and against the Pride Community Festival on Venice’s official Facebook page after the event.

“The city was very disappointed to learn that some of the actual activity at the event did not align with the description of the approved event,” officials wrote in a post. “The Municipality of Venice has not been informed and has not approved the details of these activities”.

“And the city looks surprised like you can’t see it coming from a mile away,” one Facebook user commented.

Another urged, “Don’t endorse this event again.”

Venice council member Rachel Frank responded in a statement to angry emails and phone calls from concerned citizens.

“I’m also alarmed and appalled by some of the footage I’ve seen of this event near the children’s fountain,” Frank said in a statement on the city’s website and promised to address voters’ concerns.

“I’m working on understanding more details.”

The city is revisiting its event policies and plans to update them, he wrote.

Neither Venice Pride nor CAN responded to media requests for comment.

Jannis Falkenstern

To follow

Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter covering the state of Florida.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *