It’s been more than two years, but the Annual Founder’s Day Festival, Celebration and Parade returned to historic downtown Zephyrhills on March 4, ushering in some changes, but ones that were greatly welcomed.
For starters, the parade and festivities, which were canceled last May due to weather and held off in 2021 due to COVID, returned, not only in a big way, but at a time change.
While there were activities all day long throughout Zephyrhills, dozens of vendors set up at 4 p.m. to welcome residents and shoppers up and down Main Street. Included in those were booths dedicated to the two running for the City Council Seat 2, up for election on April 11. Incumbent Alan Knight had a booth and was shaking hands, while his challenger, Steve Spina — a former Zephyrhills City Manager — also had a booth.
The three mayoral candidates — Nick Deford, Melanie Bahr Monson and Martin Harm — vying for the position relinquished by exiting mayor, Gene Whitfield, also had booths and greeted potential voters through the late afternoon and evening.
The parade, also returning, was pushed into the evening, a departure from years past when it was held in the early afternoon.
Main Street Zephyrhills Director Erin Beasley said moving the parade to the evening was a change welcomed by most.
Although the attendance was not as large as in previous years, the parade will remain in the evening and the festival will add more things, she said.
Those could include adding ”a 5K or getting booths and other exhibits to the other historical sites around town,” Beasley said. “It’s special, it’s a community and it’s the hometown experience. People come out and they value where they live.”
Parade judges Madonna Wise, Erica Freeman and Amanda Eskelund picked the winner of this year’s parade, with Kids Corner winning Best of Show. Rounding out the other parade awards were Zephyrhills High School Marching Band for Best Walking Unit; Zephyrhills Little League, Best Costume; Zephyrhills Sanitation and Utilities, Best Vehicles; Zephyr Airport Cadet Squadron of the Florida Wing, Civil Air Patrol, Best Club; and West Zephyrhills Elementary won Best Theme.
Candidates vying in the municipal election also took part in the parade, on car or truck floats, tossing beads and other trinkets. Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley was there, too.
AdventHealth, Shireman Pest Control, Red Feather Home Group, the City of Zephyrhills and Zephyrhills Community Redevelopment Agency sponsored the event.
Published March 15, 2023