By B.C. Manion
Organizers are gearing up for Lutz’s Independence Day festivities – and this year is particularly special, they say, because the community is celebrating its centennial.
As usual, there will be a 5K, a parade, a cake-decorating contest, the swearing-in ceremony for the new Lutz Guv’na and a cake auction.
The 5k begins at 8 a.m., followed by a One Mile Fun Run that begins at 8:45 a.m. Both events start on Lutz-Lake Fern Road, just west of the intersection of First Avenue.
Hundreds of runners and walkers are expected to turn out, said Terry Donovan, the race coordinator.
“Last year, we had over 600,” Donovan said. “This year, we expect a little bit more.”
Also, this year, unlike previous years, “we’re actually going to a chip system,” he said.
A chip-timed race uses a chip attached to the runner that records the time the runner crosses the timing mat to start the race and the moment the runner crosses the timing mat at the finish line.
Runners won’t be the only ones competing at the Lutz Independence Day festivities.
Winners will be selected in the cake-decorating contest, in the fundraising contest to become the honorary Lutz Guv’na and in the quest for bragging rights for snaring the highest bid in the cake auction.
When it comes to the parade, organizers have adopted a “the more, the merrier” attitude.
“Any kind of unit will work,” said Shirley Simmons, the parade coordinator.
Last year, there were about 80 units in the parade, and Simmons expects about the same number this year. There may be fewer politicians this time around, she noted, since it’s not an election year.
On the other hand, organizers are hoping that people will get into the spirit of things because this is a special year.
“This is our 100th anniversary for Lutz, so it’s a big thing,” Simmons said. The float sponsored by the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club will feature a big birthday cake, to acknowledge the community’s history.
Simmons expects the parade to feature all sorts of vehicles.
“We have tractors. We’re going to have lots of antique fire trucks,” Simmons said. There will also be World War II military vehicles.
There is no charge to take part in the parade, but those driving vehicles must have proof of insurance, said Simmons, who is registering participants. “I need to have an insurance policy on file,” she said.
Also, if tradition holds true, there will be plenty of walkers in the parade.
And, it’s not unusual in this parade to see a parent or grandparent pulling a child along in a red wagon down the parade route, which goes down Lutz-Lake Fern Road and turns to go in front of the Lutz Branch Library.
The parade begins promptly at 10 a.m. on July Fourth, but those taking part have to be lined up and ready to go at 9 a.m. That gives organizers a chance to iron out any problems, so the parade can get off without a hitch, she said.
The cake-decorating contest is another popular aspect of the Independence Day event.
Bakers who want to show off their skills can compete in a number of categories for children and adults, said Marilyn Wannamaker, who is coordinating that contest.
Adults will be judged in these categories: Best decorated, most patriotic, best tasting, men’s only, judges’ favorite and Guv’na’s favorite. They can also enter pies, which will be judged for their taste.
There’s a separate division for children younger than 10, Wannamaker said. Their entries will be judged in these categories: Best decorated, most patriotic, best tasting, judges’ favorite and Guv’na’s favorite.
Cakes cannot be larger than 9 inches by 13 inches, Wannamaker said.
She also advises: “Take care with the icing because we don’t have any refrigeration.
“The children like to make lakes out of blueberry Jell-O,” she said. “That doesn’t last.”
The entries can be delivered the day of July 3, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the fire department’s meeting building, 124 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road. They can also be dropped off on July 4, before 7:30 a.m. The judging will occur at 9:30 a.m.
After the parade concludes, the winner is announced in the annual election of an honorary Lutz Guv’na. This year’s race pits four female contenders: Suzin Carr, Karin D’Amico, Susan Gulash and Lauren Leahey.
After the new Guv’na is sworn in, the cakes from the competition will be auctioned off.
So, Wannamaker said, it’s important that those entering the contest don’t use plates that they want to get back.
She loves the cake auction because she enjoys watching parents and grandparents get into bidding wars over a child’s cake.
To find out more
If you want to take part in the 5K or parade or need other information about the Lutz Fourth of July festivities, here are the contacts:
–To sign up for a place in the parade, call Shirley Simmons, (813) 949-7060.
–For more information about booth rentals, which must be secured by July 1, call Annie Fernandez, (813) 784-4471.
–For more information about the cake-decorating contest, call Marilyn Wannamaker at (813) 949-1482.
–For more about the 5k and One Mile Fun Run, call Terry Donovan at (813) 949-6659 or go to www.active.com and search under Lutz.
–For general questions, call Phyllis Hoedt at (813) 949-1937.