May 14, 2024 - News

FDOT nixes Pride, Juneteenth bridge displays

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Photo: Joe Sohm

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge won't be lit up in rainbow colors to commemorate Pride next month.

Why it matters: The bridge has done so for two years with little fanfare and often changes hues to honor various causes, such as breast cancer, autism and mental health awareness, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plans to instead illuminate all Florida bridges in red, white and blue from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Between the lines: FDOT lights up the Skyway upon approval from the counties it touches: Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas. It did so for Israel in October and Ukraine before that.

  • Manatee County Commission Chairman Mike Rahn emailed FDOT in February to express his disapproval of lighting for Pride Month and Gun Violence Awareness, according to the Times.

Friction point: Jim Nixon, St. Pete's LGBTQ+ liaison, appealed Rahn's objection to FDOT. He pointed out that themed displays require authorization from the county commission, not just one member.

  • FDOT ignored Nixon's requests, per the Times. Last week, it announced the months-long red, white and blue display to celebrate the sales tax holiday bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed.

The decision impacts the following themed displays:

  • Mental Health Awareness (May 28-31)
  • Juneteenth (June 19)
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness (Sept. 1-7)
  • Sickle Cell Awareness Day (June 18)
  • World Fragile X Day for Autism (July 22)
  • Pride (June 20-28)
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