LUTZ — Though the Lutz Guv'na position is all fun and no politics, the competition among candidates and required fundraising is serious business.
So things were thrown into a tailspin when two of the biggest candidate events were rained out last weekend. Photographer Sheila Tramontana had hoped to raise about $1,000 through her Art in the Park event.
"I did put a lot of my eggs in that basket, and I wanted people to have a good day," she said Tuesday.
All of the candidates have until Monday to raise as much as they can. The person who collects the most money will be sworn in on a copy of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham, adorned with a red-and-white sash and bestowed the honorary title of Lutz Guv'na for a year.
Annette Bellingar, historian of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club; Lutz Elementary teacher's aide Mitchell Smithey; and Kevin Wright, a staff member at Splash! An Ocean Grill restaurant, are also vying for the title.
Lutz's Independence Day celebration has become a tradition and candidates have been running for Guv'na for about 20 years.
In addition to the Guv'na festivities, there is a parade, 5K race, cake decorating contest and barbecue benefitting the Lutz Volunteer Fire Association.
Other communities planning holiday parades include Brandon in southeast Hillsborough and Temple Terrace where festivities are hosted by the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce.
But in Lutz, the four Guv'na candidates will be working as much as celebrating. They have all planned last-minute events to squeeze out any dollars they can.
Tonight, Bellingar plans to host Ice and Spice, an ice cream social for ages 12 and up at the Lutz Community Center. Wright will be campaigning at a barbecue and cornhole event on Saturday.
Smithey will hawk T-shirts and collect donations along the parade route Monday while Tramontana will sell fans and flags for $1. She also will sell copies of photographs she has taken of historic Lutz sites.
Because of the rain, Smithey also cancelled a big event he planned for last Saturday: a Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament.
Despite the setbacks, he said he is still looking forward to the Independence Day festivities and, hopefully, becoming the next Guv'na.
"Tell people to come on out," he said. "We're going to have a good time. It's fun every year."
Tia Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3405.