Bird-watchers will find plenty of pigeons in Zephyrhills. But there’s another type of bird that’s already completed its annual migration to the area:
Snowbirds aren’t really birds, of course. They’re northerners who make their way south and live in the area for several months out of the year. From the winter months through around April, they make Florida their home. And many of them have residences in Zephyrhills.
But according to Sonya Bradley, who estimates that the local population grows by around 30,000 people at this time of year, snowbirds weren’t getting the kind of welcome they deserve.
She set out to change that with Snowbird Palooza.
Bradley, the event coordinator for Simply Events of Tampa Bay, decided that a free event for part-time residents — though it was open to everyone — would be a good fit for the February schedule. It was held Feb. 11 at Zephyr Park, the same site as last month’s Zephyrhills Pie Festival & Community Bake Off, which was also organized by Simply Events.
Bradley estimates that between 500 and 600 people attended the first Snowbird Palooza, which featured various arts and craft booths that coincided with the bi-weekly farmer’s market held at the park.
There also was live music and a bingo pavilion, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., that offered the chance to buy cards to play the popular game and win some money.
“It was a good day,” Bradley said. “People stayed, which was awesome, because we had entertainment for them and different things for them to do.”
Snowbird Palooza offered some health benefits as well.
Bayfront Health Dade City had representatives on hand to administer blood pressure checks and hearing tests for attendees. Nurses also were available to interpret results and answer questions.
Simply Events learned from the first pie festival about how to improve it for next year, and Snowbird Palooza was no different.
The 2016 version will have expanded medical screenings, Bradley said, as well as more input from local mobile home communities. She’d like one of them to run the bingo games and help get the word out about the games and the event in general.
Bradley was pleased to see some younger people who had stopped by the farmer’s market or were running through the park also having a good time. But with a large senior population, she wants to get the word out for next year to make Snowbird Palooza even bigger and better-attended than the first one.
“It’s a community with an older soul. It just makes sense for this time of the year,” Bradley said. “Why not have an event just for them?”
Published February 18, 2015