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Zephyrhills to celebrate 91st birthday

A dance, a parade and an arts and crafts show are among the events that will descend on Time Square tonight and Saturday.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 9, 2001

ZEPHYRHILLS -- Zephyrhills celebrates its founding with a parade and festivities tonightand Saturday. Everything is centered on Time Square, located on Fifth Avenue in the heart of downtown Zephyrhills.

The parade will be the biggest ever, with 100 units.

"It is a legacy to the community," said Betty Kennedy, executive director of Main Street, the sponsor of the event. "Any parade that has been going on for 51 years is an integral part of the community."

Last year, Congressman Michael Bilirakis entered the parade into the Library of Congress' Local Legacy Project.

On March 10, 1910, Zephyrhills was founded by Captain H. B. Jeffries, who served as a Union officer during the Civil War. The name was changed from Abbott's Station, and the town is now known for its citrus and poultry farms, cattle ranches and world-famous pure water.

Zephyrhills is also home to one of the largest parachuting centers in the United States.

Serving as grand marshals of the parade will be three of the four members of the gold medal sky dive team: Lilac Hayes and Sally Hathaway of Zephyrhills and Elian Rodriguez of Kissimmee. In June, they will represent the United States in competition for the world title.

They will ride in a 1910 Rolls Royce, donated by Mike Sierra of Zephyrhills Festival Park.

T.K. Hayes, general manager of Skydive City, was supposed to jump into the downtown area to kick off the parade, but injured himself jumping last weekend.

"We hope to get someone to jump who is as qualified as he is," Kennedy said. "Last year, it rained just as the parade started and the jump was canceled. Five minutes later, the rain stopped."

The theme of the parade is Jumping Into the Next Century, and in order to compete for an award, floats must depict the theme.

Students from Woodland Elementary School will wear 1950s clothes, symbolizing family values of that decade.

Four bands will perform during the two-hour parade, which begins at 10 a.m.

In addition to the parade, there will be an arts and crafts show, also the largest ever with more than 50 people displaying and selling their work.

The third annual hog calling contest is set for 2:30 p.m. Contestants can sign up throughout the day.

Entertainment in the bandstand at Time Square will be provided by Rainelle Baumbaugh at noon, Helen's Dance Studio at 1:30 p.m., Peggy's Dance at 3 p.m. and Blackwood Dance Studio at 3:30 p.m.

Ten members of the Little River Tribal Band of the Metis Nation will set up a hunting camp and tepee, telling stories and demonstrating part of their culture throughout the day.

Fish dinners will be sold by members of the Kiwanis Club from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the First Union Bank. Fried fish, coleslaw, baked beans, hush puppies, cheese grits and tea cost $5 a ticket.

Cash will also be needed to bail local celebrities out of the hoosegow. Pulled from the parade and put in jail will be new Pasco County Sheriff Bob White, state Rep. Ken Littlefield, Zephyrhills Mayor Roy Burnside and other City Council members.

"They better have friends handy to pay the bail," Kennedy said.

Tonight from 7 to 11, a street dance featuring Zoom Daddy, a local band, is scheduled at Time Square. The group performs everything from country to swing and from rock to blues, providing an eclectic variety of dance music.

- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 226-3459. Her e-mail address is

If you go

What: Zephyrhills Founders Day Parade and festival.

Where: Fifth Avenue, Zephyrhills

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Cost: Free

Note to readers: There is also a street dance tonight from 7 to 11 at Time Square. Zoom Daddy, a local band, is scheduled to perform.

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