SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva, Glenn Rossman, Ava Smith, Elizabeth White

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20th Edition of Winter Party Festival Celebrates the History of "The HOTTEST Winter in the World"

MIAMI BEACH, FL -- (Marketwire) -- 01/24/13 -- They are the people and the places that have captivated hundreds of thousands of guests over two decades and have made Winter Party Festival "The HOTTEST Winter in the World" and one of the most successful LGBT fundraisers on Earth. They are the biggest names in music on the planet -- Victor Calderone, David Knapp, Neil Lewis, Manny Lehman, Tony Moran, Abel, Ralphi Rosario, Brett Henrichsen, Joe Gauthreaux, Hector Fonseca, Ana Paula, Chus & Ceballos, Alyson Calagna. They played some of the most legendary venues anywhere -- Salvation, Warsaw, Paragon, Mansion, Score, Shadow Lounge, Cameo -- and, of course, the sands of South Beach. Even the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler, performed at Winter Party as did Deborah Cox and Kim English.

The story of Winter Party begins in 1992, 15 years after Anita Bryant's efforts led to the repeal of Dade County's first human rights ordinance. That year, Dade Action PAC, chaired by Clark Reynolds, led a successful campaign that resulted in the unanimous passage of a gay civil rights ordinance in the City of Miami Beach. The following year, the American Family Association (AFA) initiated a statewide referendum that would have prevented any municipality or county in Florida from legislating equal protection based on sexual orientation. Their goal was to get the referendum on the November 1994 ballot. Ignacio Martinez-Ybor joined Reynolds and other activists to thwart the AFA referendum campaign.

In August 1993, Reynolds and fellow Miami residents Stewart Stein and Dennis Leyva attended the Morning Party on Fire Island, a fundraiser for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, and left with the idea of throwing a similar event in Miami Beach during the winter. They thought the sun and sand of South Beach would appeal to northern tourists. Their party would be a fundraiser to fight the AFA-championed referendum.

The three men and Martinez-Ybor created the first Winter Party, which took place on February 13, 1994. They were successful in getting the event entirely underwritten through the support of their friends and four sponsors: H/X Magazine, Out Magazine, Coors Beer and the City of Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority. Music was courtesy of circuit legend Buc and Harry Bader designed the open-air dance club on the sand. More than 1,600 people showed up -- many more than expected -- and raised $45,000.

Shortly after the event, the Supreme Court of Florida declared the language of the anti-gay referendum unconstitutional and the referendum was promptly dismissed. Without a referendum to fight, the Winter Party Committee gave the $45,000 to S.A.V.E. (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone), the non-profit organization created to fight the referendum and the predecessor of today's SAVE Dade. S.A.V.E. used the funding to function as a political action committee serving the LGBT community throughout Dade County.

For the second Winter Party, the Committee formed a new foundation so that proceeds could be given out as grants to non-AIDS-related LGBT organizations throughout Dade County. Thus, the Dade Human Rights Foundation (DHRF) was born and took over the production of Winter Party.

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)
Fundarte
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
SAVE Foundation
Shining Families
Switchboard of Miami
Tigertail Productions
YES Institute

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.

New for the 20th Edition, Winter Party Festival moves the center of all the action to a new host hotel -- Shelborne South Beach. The Art Deco oceanfront property will also be home to the Welcome Center and the Under One Sun Pool Party. Also new in 2013, Winter Party Festival joins forces with Masterbeat to bring the sexiest party of Spain, WE Party, to Miami Beach's legendary Mansion Nightclub on Sunday, March 10, for a spectacular follow-up to the Beach Party. WE Party's world-famous production will present WE Party: Formula with WE resident DJ Manual Diego direct from Madrid, joined by Italy's Giangi Cappai.

2013 is also a significant milestone for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as the organization will be celebrating its 40th anniversary as the progressive voice of the LGBT movement and the LGBT voice of the progressive movement.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community from the ground up. The Task Force is the country's premier social justice organization fighting to improve the lives of LGBT people, and working to create positive, lasting change and opportunity for all.

Editor's Note:

1. Media credential applications are now open for reporters and photographers assigned to cover Winter Party Festival 2013. To submit a request for credentials, please fill out the application form at www.winterparty.com/content/2013-winter-party-festival-media-credential-application.

Sponsors & Partners as of January 15, 2013

2B, The Advocate, Alegria, Andrew Christian, Aqua Foundation, Ascension, Aspen Gay Ski Week, Atlantic Broadband, BestGayCities.com, Big Roger Events, Black & Blue Festival, Blue Ball, The Borgias, Cherry, ChrisRyanNYC, Circuit Festival, Coca-Cola, Come Out with Pride, DNA Magazine, EdgeOntheNet.com, The Edito, Elite Software, Etre, Entre Elles, fab Magazine, Florida Agenda, Frontiers Magazine, Fusion Radio, FVR Group, Gaypartix.com, GAYSTAR, GayTravel.com, Genre Latino, George Corondao - Give Me a Beat Productions, Grey Goose, Guy Magazine, Halloween New Orleans, Hell & Heaven, Hilton Wolman Events, HOTSpots Magazine, iCandee Events, Independence 2013, Instinct Magazine, Jackson Health System, LGBT Creative, MackPlanet, Mark Nelson Events, Masterbeat, Matinée, MiamiGayBlog, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, Miami-Dade Tourist Development Council, Monster, MRNY.com, MyGayToronto.com, Next Magazine, noiZe Magazine, NYC Pride, Office Depot, One Magical Weekend, Orbitz, Out Front Colorado, Outlook Columbus, Pandora Events, Paul and Matty, Paul N Presents, PennyBackBoyz, Purple Party, Rage Monthly, Rainbow411/GSHRadio, Reflex, Saint at Large/Black Party, Sand Blast, SeekWay Technologies, She Magazine, Shelborne South Beach, Showtime Networks, Sizzle Miami, SobeGayInfo.com, SobeSocialClub.com, Southwest Airlines, Splash Days, Tampico, Tom Bercu Presents, Twisted Life, Washington Blade, WayOut Events, WeHo Party, Wet, White Party Palm Springs, White Party Week, Wire Magazine, Wolfe Video, Wonder World, XLsior Festival

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