Fourth of July sparkles with patriotism

Patriotism was on full display at the Independence Day festivities in Lutz.

Whether they were part of the parade, or on the sidelines watching, people came wearing red, white and blue — and were ready to celebrate.

The nation’s colors showed up everywhere.

Jennifer Rankin wins the honorary title of Lutz Guv’na 2015. (B.C. Manion/Staff Photos)

Jennifer Rankin wins the honorary title of Lutz Guv’na 2015.
(B.C. Manion/Staff Photos)

They were on flags, in hair ribbons, on cowboy boots and emblazoned on the front of semi-trucks.

The parade, a community tradition, included the usual suspects.

There were Boy Scout troops, Girl Scout troops, elementary school kids and military veterans, too.

The veterans arrived in Jeeps and trucks, on motorcycles and some, riding stylishly, in a motorcade of Corvettes.

Adults and kids rode on floats featuring local businesses and area churches and sports teams.

Belly dancers jiggled their way down the parade route, while dancers from Dancercise showed off smooth moves and kids from martial arts studios broke boards with their hands and feet.

There were even some inflatable characters, including one representing the Civil Air Patrol and the Michelin man, who was there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dumas Tire Pros, a Lutz tire and auto repair shop.

Boy Scout Troop 12 has been a mainstay at the Lutz Fourth of July parades for decades.

Boy Scout Troop 12 has been a mainstay at the Lutz Fourth of July parades for decades.

“We like to support our community,” said DeWitt Dumas, of Dumas Tire Pros, and the company appreciates the community’s support, he added.

Lots of spectators arrived early to get a nice, shady spot.

Sam Calco was there early, staking out a spot for his family.

“We’ve lived in Lutz since ’87. We’ve made it every year, except for when we were out of town,” said Calco, who found a choice spot, under an oak, next to the library.

Now, with 4-year-old grandson, Leo McCullers, the event is even more fun, Calco said, noting, “He enjoys the beads and the candy and the fire trucks and the police cars.”

Karen Lucchese, another Lutz resident, said the parade is a great way to start Independence Day.

“To me, this is what it’s about. It’s all about hometown America. It’s exactly what you’re supposed to do for the Fourth of July, and it gives you a real sense of community,” said Lucchese, who was at the parade with her husband, Phil, her son, Tyler, his girlfriend, Lexi Neth and some other friends.

Little kids and adults lined the parade route, vying to take home some swag. There were beads, of course, but all kinds of candy, too. Some people walking down the parade route were handing out sunscreen and cardboard fans — welcome gifts on a sunny, sweltering day.

The parade wasn’t the only attraction.

There were amusement games and pony rides for kids, a cake and pie auction.

The cake and pie contest drew 28 entries, including a 5-pound apple pie, a cake shaped like a fish and another with the look of the community’s iconic train depot.

Wilma Lewis had eight entries in the competition.

Military officers rode in style during the Fourth of July in Lutz.

Military officers rode in style during the Fourth of July in Lutz.

“I’m thinking she’s wanting one of those blue ribbons,” said Karen D’Amico, who coordinated the competition this year, under the tutelage of Marilyn Wannamaker.

Shirley Simmons entered her famous, made-from-scratch pound cake, which fetched $75 in the auction after the parade.

Another highlight of the day was the swearing-in of Jennifer Rankin, as the honorary Lutz Guv’na for 2015.

It was a moment that Rankin has desired since she was a student at Lutz Elementary School.

Of course, at that time, she thought it was a real political race.

Once she learned it was to raise money for community organizations, she was even more enthused, she said while on the campaign trail.

As a Lutz native who grew up in the family business, Al’s Lawn Care on North Dale Mabry Highway, Rankin said she was pleased to represent the family business which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

She thanked her family members for all of their hard work in helping her to win the race, and she thanked everyone who donated to the cause.

Others competing for the title were Cheryl Lynn Ayers and KarenSue Molis.

Ayers raised more than $2,800 in her bid for the title, Molis raised more than $7,300 and Rankin raised more than $9,200.

“These ladies are awesome,” said Suzin Carr, a two-time Guv’na, who announced the new Guv’na.

“Every penny, nickel, dime — counts,” Carr said. “Last year there were more than 20 local charities here that got a piece of this pie.”

Lutz wasn’t the only place hosting celebrations during Independence Day weekend. The Shops at Wiregrass and the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel hosted the fourth annual Wesley Chapel Freedom Festival, and the Pasco County Fairgrounds had its annual Sparklebration celebration.

Published July 8, 2015

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