The floats were patriotic and as hot as the sun.
Nearly 50 entries, along with hundreds of Lutz residents and locals, made their way up Lutz Lake Fern Road for the annual Lutz Independence Day Parade. The much-anticipated event — held on the sweltering morning of the Fourth of July — brought together the best of the unincorporated community of more than 28,000 to celebrate the country’s birthday.
The parade route, which stretched more than a mile, started near the Oscar Cooler Sports Complex and finished in front of the Lutz Branch Library and historic Lutz Train Depot.
Local organizers also held a 5K and Mile Fun Run in the early morning, a cake-decorating contest and, after the parade, announced the winner of this year’s Lutz Guv’na campaign.
Annabelle Depolis, a young local singer, belted out the National Anthem to kick off the parade, which was led by grand marshal 2022 Guv’na Atlas Cortecero.
Hundreds lined the street as floats from the likes of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, Boy and Girl Scout troops, North Tampa-Lutz Civil Air Patrol Squadron, Lutz Chiefs Cheer Squad, and local politicians, leaders and businesses owners all tossed out patriotic beads and other trinkets.
Other floats included Lutz All Star Baseball, Lutz Scoops passing out ice cream, the Tampa Rough Riders, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Hagen, Learning Gate Community School and the Rotary Club of Land O’ Lakes.
In the 5K, the top Lutz finisher was 17-year-old Ethan Russ (16:52), who finished in sixth place, barely edging out 17-year-old Dylan Powell, of Land O’ Lakes (16:55).
All three Lutz Guv’na candidates also had entries in the parade, with eventual Guv’na winner Jerome Smalls bringing his company, SoccerGemz, and several athletes to walk in the parade.
It’s an event he looks forward to every year.
“The turnout, every year, is always amazing,” Smalls said. “It is one of the best parades, really, in the area. We learned to not throw all beads and goodies away so fast, because you then still have a mile to go!
“(The parade is) always phenomenal, and we love being a part of it and coming out to see it every year, no matter how hot it is, and it’s always hot!”
Lutz Independence Parade Trophy Winners
Best Vehicle: Charley Musselman
Bicycle Entry: West Coast Elite
Commercial Entry: Pinch-A-Penny
Largest Turnout Participation: Lutz Chiefs Cheer
Most Patriotic: Boy Scout Pack 37
Themed Entry (RED, WHITE & Lutz): Lutz Volunteer Fire Department
Walking Unit: Civil Air Patrol
Youth Entry: Learning Gate Community School
Judge’s Favorite: The Barn at Stark Farms
Grand Marshal’s Choice: First Baptist of Lutz
Published July 12, 2023