VENICE, FLORIDA — On Tuesday, the City of Venice announced it would create a code of conduct section in its special event permit process. According to the city, the code will outline event hosts’ responsibilities and repercussions for code violations.
The move comes in response to complaints about the Venice Pride Festival held on November 12 in Centennial Park. The Florida Standard reported on the growing trend of grooming children for deviant sexual activities in Sarasota County after the Twitter account Libs of TikTok shared images from the festival.
ASKED FOR INVESTIGATION
Videos on social media – including men attempting to pole dance on a lamp post and a ring-toss game using sex toys – garnered national attention. Jack Brill, acting Chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, wrote a letter to the city asking for an investigation.
On Tuesday, City Manager Ed Lavallee announced the changes after concerned community members expressed outrage over the incident. According to Lavalle, the festival organizers indicated they were unaware of any responsibility while hosting an event at the city park.
“There appears to be some lack of clarity on what that responsibility was,” said Lavalle at the council meeting. However, the local community “largely indicated a dislike for what happened but, more importantly, [to] fix that.”
The city council explained that Lavallee said that once the city grants a special event permit, the event host must ensure the activities are appropriate and not violate state and local laws.
“This is not what we want in our public streets,” said Rhonda Eynon, a Venice resident who attended the meeting. Enyon said that all festivals should have clear parameters for conducting them. She also expressed that Venice police should be empowered to enforce those parameters.
Lavallee said that obscenity is subject to interpretation. But the Venice Pride Festival was publicized as a family event. “We certainly would not approve an application that would suggest any of that,” he said.
“I’m horrified by the events that went on downtown and were allowed,” Marcia Snyder, a South Venice resident, said.
Venice Pride canceled its plans to participate in the Venice holiday Parade after public outrage over the park festival. Venice Pride’s president, Kathy Hanas, did not respond to a phone and email request for comment.