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Zephyrhills Founders' Day theme salutes first tourists

ZEPHYRHILLS — Some 40 years ago, on a bright Saturday in the mid 1960s, a skinny high school freshman marched through downtown Zephyrhills and blew his saxophone.

Today that kid runs the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, and on Saturday he'll be the master of ceremonies at that same Founders' Day Celebration.

Emcee Greg First said the 98th Annual Founders' Day celebration will feature a good old-fashioned parade with floats, old cars and, of course, the Zephyrhills High School marching band.

This year's parade theme is "Tin Can Tourists," named after the early 20th century tourists from the north who came south seeking the nice weather. Their name, inspired by the fact that they brought much of their food with them in tin cans, is a part of Zephyrhills' history.

It's a history of tourism, which ultimately led to more than 150 mobile home parks in and around the region today.

While there is no difficulty attracting residents today, the town's founders had to take out ads to attract settlers. Author Genevieve L. Smith wrote in Days Gone By that advertisements sent to the north stated "Let us all Rally On Zephyrhills, where there is Good Health, Good Weather, Good Water, Good Soil, Good Markets, Good Transportation, Good Schools, Good Churches, Good People, Good Society."

With the goal of the event to balance entertainment with education, there will be a few reminders of that long-ago settlement founded in 1910 by Civil War veteran Captain Jeffries.

"It's important for people to know about Founders' Day and the history of Zephyrhills," said Brenda Welcher, executive director of Main Street Zephyrhills Inc., which coordinates Founders' Day.

Other history lessons available Saturday include a historical home tour of 18 homes and buildings selected by the Zephyrhills Historical Association. The Abbott 4H Club is sponsoring a narrated hayride highlighting several of these homes.

Entertainment includes music by The Crazy Camel Caravan Gypsies and Helen's Baton & Dance Studio, more than 50 booths with vendors and crafts, carnival rides and an elephant.

"Kids always love seeing the elephant," said Welcher.

In addition to celebrating the town's past, the event serves a final purpose. "This event is done for our community," said Welcher, "It gives our community a chance to build memories."

>>If you go

Zephyrhills 98th Annual Founders' Day celebration

Downtown Zephyrhills, just east of Hwy. 301 and S.R. 54

9:30 a.m. — opening ceremonies featuring skydivers

10 a.m. — parade

4 p.m. — raffle drawing

Zephyrhills Founders' Day theme salutes first tourists 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:29am]
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