By B.C. Manion
Organizers of this year’s Fourth of July festivities in Lutz are planning to celebrate the nation’s independence and the 100th birthday of this community north of Tampa.
Those putting together the schedule of activities expect the celebration to offer a sense of nostalgia, along with its usual old-fashioned fun.
Festivities kick off at 8 a.m. with the 5k, followed by a One Mile Fun Run that starts at 8:45 a.m.
Next is the cake-decorating competition, that will be judged at 9:30 a.m. Entries must be received at 7:30 a.m. at 124 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road, in order to compete.
Marilyn Wannamaker, a cake contest coordinator, said this year’s competition will be tinged with sadness because one of the regular entrants recently passed away.
“Duane Martin was famous for his pineapple upside-down cake,” Wannamaker said. “I’m hoping someone will do one in his honor.”
The member of the Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club said the confectionary competition is always fun and typically draws unusual entries from children.
The parade, which starts at 10 a.m., will take its usual path, down Crooked Lane and Lutz Lake Fern Road, taking a few turns and then going past the Lutz Branch Library, in front of the viewing stand.
One of the highlights of this year’s parade is expected to be a group of about 50 people playing “Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue” on kazoos, if Suzin Carr, a candidate for Lutz Guv’na, is able to pull it off.
“I’ve got the kazoos. Now, I need 50 people to show up,” said Carr, who is competing against Karin D’Amico, the reigning Guv’na, Susan Gulash and Lauren Leahey, for the honorary title.
The GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club’s float will feature a big birthday cake, to acknowledge this year’s centennial theme.
Shirley Simmons, who organizes the parade, has become adept through the years at figuring out how much space each unit will need in the parade.
Antique fire trucks and large vehicles typically need about 30 feet in the lineup, while standard vehicles need about 20 feet, Simmons said.
She advises anyone participating in the parade, or coming out to watch it, to bring plenty of water.
Parade-goers are likely to walk away with some loot, since organizers have a liberal attitude about giveaways.
“We don’t tell them what they can give out,” Simmons said, noting people in the parade often give away beads, candy, pins, flags and brochures.
Participants are encouraged to hand or gently fling the items, Simmons said. No overhand throwing is allowed.
“Even a piece of hard candy can really hurt,” Simmons said.
The parade is expected to include the usual suspects: Marching scout troops, antique fire trucks, tractors, a smattering of politicians and the guv’na candidates.
One of the annual fixtures, however, will be missing.
The community’s volunteer fire department – a major player in previous Independence Day celebrations – has been taken over by Hillsborough County’s professional firefighters and rescue personnel.
In previous years, the volunteer fire association (founded in 1952) sold chicken dinners to raise money for equipment.
Typically, the volunteers would begin stoking the fires to grill the chicken about 2 a.m., said Jay Muffly, former president of the Lutz Volunteer Fire Association.
Muffly said this is the first year in at least a decade that he’ll be able to enjoy the day simply as a spectator.
“Last year, we had enough chickens for about 1,100 dinners,” Muffly said.
He’s looking forward to the parade and other festivities.
“I think it’s going to be well-attended,” Muffly said.
While the firefighters won’t be serving up chicken dinners, there will be plenty of vendors offering a variety of foods for sale, said Annie Fernandez, who is handling booth rentals for the event.
Parade-goers will be able to purchase Cuban sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, elephant ears, Italian ices, soft drinks, snow cones and other refreshments.
She expects about 45 vendors to be offering a wide assortment of items, including metal yard art, jewelry, wooden craft goods and hair accessories. Some churches are sponsoring children’s activities, too.
At one booth, event-goers will be able to buy chances for an assortment of stuff that comes in a bottle, including beer, salad dressing and hot sauces.
After the parade, the new Lutz Guv’na will be sworn in.
This year’s election could prove historic, as two of the candidates are vying for the bragging rights of becoming the first Lutz Guv’na to repeat.
D’Amico would be extending her reign, and Carr, who won the honor in 2009, would be stepping forward to reclaim it.