PINELLAS PARK — The time for that traditional spring cleaning is almost here and city officials want to encourage residents to spruce up outdoors by offering free permits for home improvement projects.
It's an annual tradition called Pride in the Park that began 22 years ago after tornadoes struck. The goal is to encourage homeowners to do those improvements they've been putting off all year.
If the City Council agrees at Thursday's meeting to continue the program, homeowners will be able to get free permits from March 5 to 23 for projects that include sidewalks, driveways, reroofing, alterations to homes, utility sheds, garages, barns, above-ground pools, decks and fences.
The city's not just helping those who want to make major changes. Residents who merely want to prune trees, collect yard waste, clear out garages or whatever will be able to drop off their yard clippings and household trash for free at eight sites around Pinellas Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 10.
When officials conceived of Pride in the Park, they also decided to reward residents for their hard work with a citywide party. Thus Country in the Park, the granddaddy of Pinellas Park festivals, was born. A few years ago, Pinellas Park's firefighters tagged onto the success of Country in the Park by establishing their annual Chili Blaze to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association on the eve of the country festival.
This year's Chili Blaze will be from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. March 16 at England Brothers Park, 5010 81st Ave. N. The free event will have live musical entertainment, an arts and crafts show, children's activities, and a fireworks display by Pyrotecnico. More than 40 teams are expected to compete. An all-you-can-sample wristband costs $8.
Country in the Park will be March 17, also at England Brothers Park. The free event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and include musical performances by the Kentucky Headhunters and local musicians, an arts and crafts show, a trade show, pony rides, a car show and children's activities. Food and beverages will be available. Lawn chairs are welcome; coolers are not.
For information about Pride in the Park, contact the city's Utility Billing Division at (727) 541-0711. For information about the Chili Blaze or to become a sponsor or competitor, contact Nick DelGrosso at (727) 687-4494 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the event's website at chiliblaze.com.
For information about Country in the Park, contact Joel Garren at (727) 541-0805, ext. 3076, or email him at email@example.com. Information on all three is also available on the city's website, pinellas-park.com. Look under events.
Reach Anne Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.