Just weeks after angering local officials by twice blocking intersections for long periods of time, CSX Transportation is spending some money to help support Dade City’s annual Kumquat Festival.
“CSX Transportation is committed to working beyond our rails with the communities we serve,” said Bob O’Malley, resident vice president for CSX, in a release. “Our support of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce and the annual Kumquat Festival demonstrates our recognition of the importance of local partnerships, corporate stewardship and the vibrant economic growth of Pasco County.”
Terms of the sponsorship deal were not disclosed, but CSX will join other business sponsors at the festival — including Florida Hospital Zephyrhills — the chamber said.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis said he asked the Federal Railroad Administration to investigate CSX for a pair of road blockages that occurred inside Dade City in July and August, including one that lasted for hours and left only one intersection available to go into a neighborhood. CSX blamed the incidents on federally mandated limits on employee hours, where once train crews met those hours, they had to go off the clock.
In both instances, the trains were inside Dade City, and crews left the trains as they were before a relief crew could arrive. In response, CSX apologized for the incident, and said that if it happened in the future, workers would be instructed to separate cars on the train, so that they would leave the intersections open for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The Kumquat Festival, now in its 18th year, will be held Jan. 31. It features free admission, free public parking, free shuttle service from area parking lots, free entertainment, crafts, gifts, food and beverage vendors. Last year, more than 40,000 people attended the Kumquat Festival, which takes over downtown Dade City.
“We are thrilled that CSX has joined our many corporate partners and shown the support needed for the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce to market, manage and administer this event,” said John Moors, the chamber director, in a release.
The festival generates $1 million in economic activity, chamber officials said, and has been awarded the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events designation, as well as Pasco County’s Event of the Year.