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Every day is somebody's day

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001


It may be part of normal life in Palm Beach County, but a noisy, bright blue, 30-foot,Gumbylike windsock with fringe on top is not normally on display in the Capitol rotunda.

But it was there Wednesday, at least for a time. "Fly Guy" is the welcoming creature for West Palm Beach's Clematis by Night, a downtown street festival that takes place once a week.

The head of this critter -- with long blue fringe on top -- reached all the way to the third-floor balcony of the rotunda. Noisy fans blew up each leg to keep it dancing in the air.

Every day during legislative sessions, various groups take over the Capitol to promote themselves. Wednesday was Palm Beach County's Day.

When Miami-Dade County takes over the place, they distribute garish neckties and cook a giant pan filled with paella.

Some days are filled with the soft voices of children singing, part of a program that brings music students to Tallahassee to sing for legislators and lobbyists.

It's all part of a continuing effort to attract attention from Gov. Jeb Bush and the legislators who have their hands on the purse strings that funnel money for big county projects and other things their citizens want.

On Wednesday, Palm Beach County was distributing purple, green, gold and pearl Mardi Gras beads with little fish and plastic cutouts of the state of Florida along with yo-yos, moon-shaped Slinkys and fresh vegetables.

Displays were set up all around the rotunda, extolling the virtues of life in South Florida.

Legislators attended an appreciation luncheon on the 22nd floor of the Capitol, a place that offers the best view in Tallahassee.

Wednesday night, Fly Guy was back dancing in the wind at Sloppy Joe's, a restaurant near the Capitol. It's a clone of a similar bar in Key West that is owned by former state Rep. Ron Saunders.

"Maybe he belongs at Sloppy Joe's," said Mary Pinak, community events manager for the city of Palm Beach, after county officials were asked to dismantle the noisy symbol and remove it from the Capitol.

The Capitol has so many requests for "days" that several of them are often scheduled on the same day. Wednesday also was supposed to be "Sarasota Day," but it was canceled for lack of interest.

Today the courtyard has been reserved by the Florida Society of Association Executives. Friday it goes to the American Red Cross.

And on Monday, it's Marion County Day. Expect lots of barbecue and animals from Silver Springs.

It's all part of life at the Capitol during a legislative session.

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