The excitement is palpable — like waiting for a firework to illuminate the night sky.
The annual Lutz Fourth of July Celebration and Parade is back on. Following a two-year COVID pandemic hiatus, the little town in northern Hillsborough County is ready to celebrate independence, and its citizens, once again.
“We sure hope everyone is excited for it to be back,” said Jennifer Rankin, this year’s parade organizer. “Because everyone (behind the scenes), who are helping and putting it together — that’s all I see, and they’re super excited for it. I also see everyone posting on Facebook or online about their excitement, so we just hope — for all the people involved and who have spent so much time and work to put it together — that everyone is just as excited as we are for it to be back.”
Back in 2020, with the pandemic raging, businesses closed, and severe mask and six-foot rules in effect, organizers deemed it too risky to host the event that’s been going on for more than 75 years. Last year, too many of these hurdles still remained.
Now, the parade, the 5K and mile fun run, the cake contest and, of course, the Guv’na Race all are back in full force.
This year’s parade, Rankin said, should feature more than 40 floats. She even expects several new floats, as a popular Fourth of July parade in Brandon was canceled and many from that might join the Lutz parade.
“I know that we’ll get at least seven more floats because I’m one of them that still needs to sign up,” Rankin said with a laugh and referring to her business, Al’s Lawn Care Products and Services.
Rankin herself is most excited for the cake contest to return, as she says the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Women’s Club takes all the cakes and auctions them off to help fund the parade and the nonprofits.
“A lot of people meander off and don’t see the cakes because of the parade,” she added, “but that’s my favorite part of the whole day!”
The parade also will include widely known local organizations, such as the Little Women of Lutz, the Lutz Civic Association, Boy Scout Troop 12 and the North Tampa Lutz Cadet Squadron. Local businesses, churches, law enforcement agencies, schools, military organizations, politicians and more also will be in attendance, several of them with floats coming down Lutz Lake Fern Road and ending at the Lutz Junction Train Depot, in front of Lutz Branch Library.
Also back are the candidates for the honorary Lutz Guv’na, one of whom will be replacing current Guv’na Amy Lancaster, who has held “office” for two years now.
Candidates Atlas Cortecero, David Penzer and Stacee Campbell have been hitting the campaign trail hard, looking to raise the most money and earn that coveted Guv’na sash.
“All the candidates have done more events so far than I have ever seen done in past years,” said Rankin, who was the 2015 Guv’na. “I think they are so excited to be around people, to do stuff, and each one of them is having a crazy amount of events and a crazy amount of people turning up for them.
“As a former Guv, I would get down in the dumps if not many people came to one of my fundraisers, but the turnouts (to theirs) have been incredible.”
Rankin said adding the parade back into the mix not only has helped the Guv’na race, but goes back to benefiting those who really matter: local nonprofits and charities.
Which is why she also feels the parade could be one of the best ever.
“You don’t realize how much it hurts (the nonprofits and charities) by not having (the parade and the Guv’na Race) the past two years,” she said. “Because some really need it, like the Old Schoolhouse, which needs new windows and gates, and termite treatment. Or the Civil Air Patrol or the Girl and Boy Scouts. This year all of them could receive more (contributions) than ever, and it’s all because everything that makes Lutz Lutz, is finally back.”
Annual Lutz Fourth of July Parade
Where: Corner of Lutz Lake Fern Road and U.S. 41
When: July 4, with festivities starting at 7:15 a.m., the 5K starting at 8 a.m., and the parade at 10 a.m.
Details: A parade featuring floats, antique cars, fire trucks, sheriff’s patrol cars, local organizations, a cake contest and announcement of the 2022 Lutz Guv’na.
Info: Visit tinyurl.com/ywjx2da4.
Starkey Market’s Annual Fourth of July Extravaganza
Where: 3460 Starkey Blvd., New Port Richey
When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Details: A family friendly evening of fun, food, fireworks, music. Bring your own chairs and blankets to enjoy a space in the huge open field. Children ages 6 and younger get free admission, and limited tickets are available.
Info/tickets: Visit tinyurl.com/bdh9vjs7.
Seventh Annual Zephyrhills Summerfest: An Independence Day Celebration
Where: Zephyr Park, 38116 Fifth Ave.
When: July 2, noon to 9:30 p.m.
Details: A daylong festival featuring food and drink vendors, local merchants, and fireworks at dark.
Info: Call 727-674-1464.
Fourth of July Celebration at Avalon Park
Where: 33613 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel
When: July 4, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Details: Patriotic bake-off, bike parade, bounce houses, food trucks, community performances, vendors and more, before fireworks at 9 p.m.
Info: Visit AvalonParkWesleyChapel.com, or call 813-783-1515.
Fourth of July Bash!
Where: Plantation Palms, 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd., Land O’ Lakes
When: July 2, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Details: Live music, and food and drink specials, at the neighborhood clubhouse and restaurant, Mulligan’s. Prizes for most patriotic dressed.
Info: Visit Facebook.com/PPgolfclub.
Published June 29, 2022