By Joe Potter
Special to The Laker
The hundreds of people who planned and assisted with Zephyrhills’ 100th anniversary celebration knew they had one chance to get it right. They could hold their heads high after last Sunday’s conclusion.
Founders Day and its many events — carnival, parade, fireworks, community church service and time capsule dedication — were coordinated by Brenda Welcher, executive director Main Street Zephyrhills Inc. She worked closely with the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, Zephyrhills Police Department and numerous other organizations in her planning.
Welcher was literally speechless at the end of the three-day event. But Keith and Cassandra Anderson of Haliburton, Ontario, and John MacDiarmid of Zephyrhills summed up the success of Founders Day 2010.
The Andersons have spent the last eight winters in Zephyrhills and have attended several Founders Days. This year’s event was by far the best, Cassandra said. “The parade was great,” added Keith.
MacDiarmid said Founder’s Day, “was really an amazing thing that took place in Zephyrhills. The parade was a parade of all parades. It was very, very spectacular.”
Thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street the morning of March 13 to watch the 118-unit parade that took two hours to proceed.
The parade featured grand marshals who represented each of the past 10 decades. Area mobile home or recreational vehicle communities were represented in 12 of the units. “Royalty” from the parks rode in convertibles while spectators marveled at their crowns and colorful garb. Churches were represented in six of the units.
Bands from Zephyrhills High School, Raymond B. Stewart Middle School, Pasco Middle School, J.W. Mitchell High School and Pine View Middle School provided musical entertainment.
The only centennial event cancelled was skydivers dropping into Zephyr Park because of high wind gusts. Still, hundreds gathered at the park to watch fireworks shoot from a pontoon boat in the middle of Lake Zephyr. Fireworks lit up the night and detonations could be heard miles away.
The 2010 Founders Day celebration ended Sunday afternoon with the dedication of a time capsule on Veterans Walkway at Zephyr Park. The time capsule will be filled later this month with more than 60 items of historical and sentimental significance from the city’s first 100 years. Items to be included are local newspaper stories about the Centennial, a Michigan license plate, the book “Zephyrhills — Images of America” by Madonna Wise, 2010 yearbook from Zephyrhills High School (also founded in 1910) and sports memorabilia from Zephyrhills natives Dave Eiland, pitching coach for the NY Yankees, Dave Reutimann, NASCAR driver and Ryan Pickett, lineman for the Green Bay Packers