Cyclists, builders race to finish

By Kit Ingalls
Published February 19, 2007

DADE CITY - A multitude of languages could be heard along Seventh Street on Sunday as Dade City took an international flavor at its eighth annual Race for Humanity.

"I have heard there are folks from European countries as well as South American countries here," Mayor Hutch Brock said. "I've heard some folks from Brazil, from Italy, some (speaking) French."

Low temperatures and fierce northwest winds kept crowds sparse for the race and accompanying Habitat Home Improvement Show. But chilly weather did not deter the cyclists who sped through the downtown streets at speeds up to 35 mph.

Nor did biting winds deter the dozens of volunteers from throughout the United States who gathered on Pasco Avenue to erect, and then dismantle, a Habitat house. The house will be moved to its permanent location at Delmar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Henriette and Henri Martel from Quebec, Canada, added an international flavor to the crew.

Lewis Moyer, who came from West Virginia in December with his wife, Betty, worked for three weeks preparing the house.

"We actually cut it and laid it out the first time on the Habitat porch at the train station," he explained. "Then we loaded it on the trailer and brought it over here."

"This is going to be house number 44," said site supervisor Michael Fremlin, as the steady rhythm of hammers cut through the morning air. "This will be a four bedroom, bath and a half. We're going to get this all framed up and sheeted with plywood and then we'll be standing it up on the form baseboard that we've got laid out."

The efficiency of the crews drew spectators throughout the morning.

"The executive director wants this completed between one and two o'clock today for photo op," said Fremlin at 9 a.m. "I'm trying to slow these guys down."

At the time he spoke, the house was two-dimensional, its pieces lying flat on the street.

It took extra coffee breaks to keep the job on schedule.

Vendors, hardest hit by the wind gusts, scrambled to save their displays. Scott's Lawn Care representatives inflated their 22-foot-tall fire ant by 8 a.m. but took it down by 8:30.

But children still came to the Lowe's workshops, where they built steamrollers, coin banks and birdhouses.

Spectators came out to cheer the cyclists, and many learned a bit about the sport.

House No. 44 went up on time.

And throughout downtown Dade City streets, the bold primary colors of cycling jerseys mingled with the brilliant lime green T-shirts of Habitat volunteers.