A final but significant celebration of those who lost their lives in the Orlando Pulse Shooting will take place this Saturday, June 25 at 2 pm at Robarts Arena, 3000 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota, Florida. The funeral will be for Sarasota victim Edward “Top Hat Eddie” Sotomayor who was the first name published as lost in the Pulse attack. Eddie has received world-wide attention including tributes to him from more than 50 countries and across America. Sotomayor was National Brand Manager for a gay travel company, ALandCHUCK.travel and was one of the nations most recognized leaders in gay community travel. Tributes for Eddie have been made across the globe including from Lady Gaga and Princess Kate Middleton and the world’s travel industry.
Eddie was very recognized for a black top hat that he would wear at national and international travel events and was the focus of a snapchat video with the top hat that he sent inside Pulse 23 minutes before the shooting broke out. Sotomayor was closely associated with the international singer RuPaul and coordinated RuPaul’s Drag Race Cruise… marketed as the world’s most famous cruise. That cruise made international headlines when Carnival Cruise Lines banned all Drag on the cruise. They later reversed that policy for the cruise after world-wide outrage.
Recently ‘Top Hat Eddie’ organized the world’s first gay cruise to Cuba. American’s from more than 40 states participated in these first ever cruises to Cuba. CUBA WILL PARTICIPATE in the services as world famous Cuban Painter and Artist Santiago Hermes (referred to as Picasso of Cuba) will attend and speak at the funeral in Sarasota and participate in the candlelight tribute at St Pete Pride. Santiago Hermes will tribute the Latin community that were significantly affected by the tragedy.
The funeral will feature tribute videos, live music, speakers and more. The services will be positive and uplifting as they are coordinated by Pastor Dan Minor of the Harvest Tabernacle Church of Sarasota.
After the services with family and friends, bus transportation will be provided (up to capacity) from Robarts Arena in Sarasota to the MCC King of Peace Church at 3150 5th Avenue North in St Petersburg. There will be a tribute Celebration of Life for Eddie from 5 pm to 8 pm including food and refreshments. Guests are encourage to speak on Sotomayor’s behalf of stories of love and respect. At sunset there will be a candlelight processional for Eddie in the St Pete Pride Parade. The parade is expecting 250,000 participants and participants are encouraged to bring a White Candle, Wear a White T-Shirt, and Wear a Black Top Hat (available at any party store).
Press are welcome to attend the Robarts Funeral and will have a special seating area. They are welcome to attend the MCC King of Peace services and the candlelight processional in St Petersburg.
“This is a defining moment for our communities. Regardless of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, the tragic death of Edward ‘Top Hat Eddie’ Sotomayor (and the loss of the Orlando Pulse 49) is a call to action for all of us. We must stand up to hate with love. We must be counted. The funeral in Sarasota and the Candlelight walk in St Petersburg will accomplish that” said Al Ferguson, Eddie’s employer at Legendary Journeys / ALandCHUCK.travel
Questions, information and Press interviews for the memorial events (on behalf of the family, employees, and friends of Edward Sotomayor) can be coordinated through Cheryl Hyman at 941-953-7988 ext 113 or Cheryl@LJ.travel
There is an event page for the memorial celebrations that will constantly be updated and the community is encouraged to join the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CelebrationOfLifeForEdwardSotomayor/
There is a memorial fund to help the family pay for significant funeral and final arrangement expenses. If you wish to support these efforts please donate to https://www.gofundme.com/edwardsotomayor
Edward Sotomayor widely quoted philosophy on life celebrates the heart of the memorial event which is “Do all the good you can, to as many people as you can, as often as you can.”
About Edward “Top Hat Eddie” Sotomayor
Edward “Eddie” Manuel Sotomayor Jr., 34, was a charming and charismatic man who enjoyed traveling the world and meeting new people. Eddie touched the lives of everyone he came into contact with.
Eddie graduated from Booker High School in Sarasota, Florida in 2000. He went on to gain a Bachelor’s Degree in Television Broadcasting from the University of South Florida in 2010.
Eddie was proud to have familial roots in both Hawaii and Puerto Rico. While he treasured his heritage, he considered himself fortunate to have lived in the Dominican Republic and Hamilton, Ontario. He also loved the time he lived in New York City.
Eddie was the National Brand Manager for ALandCHUCK.travel. During his tenure, he organized and managed several major LGBT Cruise Tours. Most notable was a cruise traveling to Rome, Jerusalem and Cairo carrying LGBT guests from a Christian country, to a Jewish country, then to a Muslim country. Eddie thrived when he was bringing people together. Eddie believed the best way to tear down the walls of our world was to experience the culture and the people that live within it.
Eddie also had great success organizing and managing the Drag Stars at Sea, where stars of the Television show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” accompanied fans on an action packed cruise. Eddie became friends to many of the stars and fans of the television show, even touching the heart of RuPaul.
Eddie was also instrumental in the organization and management of the first Gay cruise to Cuba creating bonds of love, friendship, tolerance and acceptance with an island nation that had been closed off to Americans for over 50 years.
He is survived by his parents Sandra Wade and Edward Manuel Sotomayor, Sr., his sister, Kimberly Sotomayor (Jackson), her Husband Jamie Jackson, Grandfather, Jesus Sotomayor. Father’s family members include, Edgar and Dalynn Sotomayor, Adaline Sotomayor (Williams), Larry Sotomayor, Rudy Martinez and Marc Pease, Justin and Melanie Sotomayor, Danielle (Sotomayor) and Edward Buddin, Autumn (Sotomayor) Laperriere, James Sotomayor. Mother’s family members include: Patricia (Wade) and Robert Miller; Barbara (Wade) and Edward Caramanico; Shelly (Wade) Campbell; William Campbell; Harold and Diane Wade Jr.; Adam, Danielle and Madelyn Miller; Joshua Miller; Jessica, Greg and Lakota Bennett; Krystal and Jax Murphy, Wade Campbell; Jennifer, Campbell and Andie Graney; Kendall and Heather Wade; Andrew and Christine Wade; Daniel and Laura Wade; Lorraine (Wade) and Juan Leon. Angels carrying him home are: Harold and Joy Wade Sr., Irene (Tita) Sotomayor, Donna Wade, Kevin Sullivan, B.J. Williams, Bill Terry.