In 1997, Winter Party became Winter Party Weekend with several other events added to support the popular Beach Party. The added events were successful and Winter Party firmly established itself as a major national event. The Miami Recognition Dinner, spearheaded by DHRF Board members Eddy MacIntyre and Rosemary Wilder, was launched on March 7, 1997 -- the Friday of Winter Party Weekend -- to honor LGBT community leaders and activists. Ruth Shack, the former county commissioner who introduced the first gay rights ordinance in the United States; Greg Baldwin, a partner in the law firm Holland and Knight; and the Miami Beach City Commission were the first honorees. In 1998, the Miami Recognition Dinner moved to the fall as a stand-alone fundraising event.
The 1999 Winter Party implemented many changes and expansions. Aggressive advertising reached out to a national and international audience, the volunteer base was expanded, a national host committee was formed for the opening night party and the first up-and-coming DJ showcase was created. The Winter Party Committee also took over production responsibilities for most of the weekend's other events, in addition to the Beach Party.
The new strategy worked. Attendance increased dramatically in 1999 and the event doubled the previous year's earnings.
By mid-2002, all founders of the Winter Party had retired from the Foundation and the Party. Then in 2004, DHRF closed its doors and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force took over the production responsibilities for Winter Party Festival and the Miami Recognition Dinner. In assuming responsibilities for the two events, the Task Force pledged that the majority of the combined net proceeds would stay in South Florida to be administered as grants through the Dade Community Foundation, now known as The Miami Foundation. The remainder would go to support the Task Force's national efforts to build the grassroots power of the LGBT community.
Since then, the Task Force has been able to donate nearly $1.4 million to South Florida LGBT charities through grants administered by The Miami Foundation's GLBT Community Projects Fund. In 2012, these grant recipients included:
ACLU Foundation of Florida
Blue Stripe Films
Equality Florida Institute
Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami
Florida International University (Multicultural Programs)
Miami Beach Gay Pride
Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services
Miami Dade College Foundation for Miami International Film Festival
Miami Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Next @ 19th Street
Performing Arts Center Trust - Adrienne Arsht Center
Pioneer Winter Collective
Pridelines Youth Services
Safe Schools South Florida
Switchboard of Miami
2013 is shaping up to be a one-of-a-kind Winter Party Festival for the 20th Edition and continues the tradition of the very first Winter Party by offering a "party with a purpose" that is second-to-none. Confirmed DJs include Brett Henrichsen and Joe Gauthreaux who will headline Sunday's Beach Party and Brazil's Rafael Calvente who will spin at Saturday's Under One Sun Pool Party. Thursday's Ignite party will spotlight Chris Cox and Tony Moran.
One of the highlights of the 20th Edition will be the VIP Cocktail Reception on Saturday, March 9. The event, which will be held at the Gale South Beach and Regent Hotel, will celebrate the rich history of Winter Party Festival by honoring its four founders -- Leyva, Martinez-Ybor, Reynolds and Stein.
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