Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Riverview's Showmen's Association brings the fun to special-needs kids

RIVERVIEW

More than 300 children with special needs from Gibsonton and Riverview elementary and middle schools will enjoy a brighter holiday season thanks to a party staged by the International Independent Showmen's Association on Monday.

The group, made up of members associated with the outdoor amusement industry, dedicates itself to making children and families happy at carnivals and fairs throughout the year. In what has become a tradition before the holidays, the association reaches out to disadvantaged and special-needs children with its annual party at its club along the Alafia River.

This year's party exceeded everyone's expectations, including Jamie Sharitz, ESE specialist at Eisenhower Middle School, who has been attending the event for years.

"This is so consistently special," Sharitz said. "The Showmen can't do enough for our kids. They walk in with their eyes lit up, like they're in heaven. Even our faculty is awestruck."

Children were treated to fruit, candy and cookies as well as an individual gift bag filled with coloring books, crayons, color markers, toys and many other goodies. No bag was left behind, as teachers brought the gifts back to their classrooms for the students who couldn't attend the party.

Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted the children and took their Christmas wishes, and a DJ and a master of ceremonies led entertainment for two hours, inspiring the children and adults with song and dance.

Even the bus drivers and teachers who attended the party with their students were not overlooked by the Showmen. They enjoyed the music and the merriment and a breakfast of juice, coffee and doughnuts.

Hiram "Scooter" Ryals, a food concessionaire for 60 years and president of the Showmen Shrine Club who helped organize and host the party, says the joy was contagious and very special.

"Everyone gets so excited about our Christmas party," Ryals said. "When I call for volunteers to help put the gift bags together for the children, people get overwhelmed. Our clown was crying tears of joy after the event, and although Santa and Mrs. Claus were warm from wearing their winter outfits most of the morning, they couldn't stop thanking us for being there."

The International Independent Showmen's Association's Charities Corp. has been sponsoring the Christmas party for children since 2000, when the group first took over the annual tradition from a now-defunct club called the Mullet Heads. Since then, the children's holiday party has grown steadily, and is expected to include more students and schools in southeastern Hillsborough County next year.

"We're looking forward to having more children attend; it's a good thing," said Ryals said, whose Showmen Shrine Club participates in several fundraising events throughout the year to support the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa.

"This is all about the kids and the community. For some children, this is their Christmas, so it's a nice way of pepping everybody up."

Kathryn Moschella can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

#TampaBayInspires

This holiday season, you can help spread good news and help the Times Bay Times raise money for Metropolitan Ministries. For every act of kindness shared with the tag #TampaBayInspires, the Times will donate $1 to Metropolitan Ministries, a local organization that cares for the homeless and needy. Share an Instagram, a tweet or a Facebook post telling us how you and your friends and family are giving back. It can be a donation, a random act of kindness to a stranger and/or a volunteering effort. You do good. We do good. It's all good. Read the good news at tampabay.com/inspires.

Riverview's Showmen's Association brings the fun to special-needs kids 12/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Press]
  2. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With Friday's opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  3. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.



  4. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  5. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]