How does it feel to be a king?
Lots of people asked me that last week, on the night of the 25th Anniversary Chasco Royal Coronation Ball after I was crowned 2010 King Pithla.
It is not easy to be a king. Relating to Kermit's sentiment — there is all that smiling for hours and posing for pictures. Not that I am incapable of appreciating recognition. It is the awkwardness of being picked among all other known dedicated, devoted and well-deserving nominees that made me uncomfortable. Spending some time with Bonnie Howard, 2010 Queen Chasco, will be a bonus as I have admired her service to the community for a long time.
Little did I know that participating in the Chasco Fiesta Street Parade Saturday on the royal float would turn out to be one of the most enjoyable and memorable things I have done in many years.
Tens of thousands of children with their beautiful faces and innocent smiles lined the streets of downtown New Port Richey. There were parents with their children, grandparents with their loving families, teenagers with their best friends — all ages and all colors accommodating each other, enjoying each other, caring for each other and sharing with each other. So much joy, so much discipline, so much mutual respect, and so much love and affection all around. The pessimistic people who believe that the social fabric in our country is completely torn would have changed their minds instantly.
It is a long time since I have seen that level of happiness, satisfaction, and pure pleasure all around me. Feeling like a kid was much more enjoyable than looking like a king.
The parade was just one of many fun events during the 11-day Chasco Fiesta. The 89th annual festival provides an opportunity for family fun in addition to a venue for about 30 nonprofit local organizations to raise much-needed funds. In Spanish, chasco fiesta means "festival of frolic.'' Chasco also refers to the middle syllable of Pithlachascotee, the river running through New Port Richey.
People continue to ask me, "How does it feel to be a king?" The title may be new but the feeling is old. People of Pasco have always treated me like a king.
The world has truly become a small place. I was born halfway around the globe and I was educated halfway across this country, but I ended up serving people of Pasco County all my adult life. I did not know a single soul in Pasco when I moved here with my wife almost three decades ago. Pasco has been very good to us.
I do not know how many believe in destiny. But, an Indian American just received recognition given in honor of American Indians and the selection came from a group of impartial non-Indian Americans. This sort of thing can happen only in this great country.
Rao Musunuru is a cardiologist practicing at Heart Institute of Regional Medical Center in Hudson.