Make us your home page

Brandon Fourth of July parade organizers say event is largest in Florida

BRANDON — The stage is set for what organizers bill as the largest Independence Day event of its kind in Florida.

And as always, kids, neighbors and friends will head out early to tag a prime spot along the 2-mile stretch of this year's Brandon Fourth of July parade.

It kicks off at 10 a.m. on Monday at the corner of Lumsden Road and Parson Avenue, heads north to Roberstson Street, turns west and ends at Buckingham Place about two and half hours later.

As in years past, the Community Roundtable organizes the parade and its 105 entries, including 35 floats, that come primarily from charitable organizations, businesses and churches throughout the community.

Parade chairwoman Marie Cain and her assistant, Community Roundtable president Janine Nickerson, have prepared for the event since January, as has parade marshal LaWayne Wyatt, who has served in the position since 1991. All are voluntary roles.

"I think I was born to put smiles on kids' faces," said Cain, a widow and mother of three children, grandmother of two and great grandmother of six.

Nickerson cherishes the idea of keeping Brandon's hometown spirit alive and Wyatt describes it as a great deal of work, but also a lot of fun.

The organizers will dedicate this year's event to longtime parade chairman Peggs Stuart, who died earlier this year.

Leading off the parade will be grand marshal Rishi Nair, 12, of Seffner, who took top honors at this year's National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C. He is a student at Williams Middle Magnet School and the son of Ray Murali and Geetha Murali Dharan.

"As his parent I feel proud of his achievement, which undoubtedly is due to his sheer hard work and perseverance with a single objective to win the title," his father said. "We're looking forward to the parade and seeing him lead it."

Also being honored is Kavita Marballi, Campo Family YMCA associate membership director and winner of the Community Roundtable's 2016 Alice B. Tompkins award, named posthumously after the civic advocate and former editor of the Brandon News.

Recent Bloomingdale High graduate Zahiany Zayas Toro will also ride in the parade as winner of the 2016 Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship, given in memory of a longtime Community Roundtable volunteer.

In addition, volunteers from Brandon Meals on Wheels, selected as the Community Roundtable's 2016 Non Profit of the Year, will be among the parade's participants; as will Jim Clark of Brandon and his daughter Lily Clark, 11, who recently won first place in the Roundtable's Father of the Year Essay Contest.

Lily wrote about her dad rescuing a puppy from the side of a highway, taking it to the vet where it underwent surgery, and ultimately bringing it home when she was just 8 months old.

"I had no idea she wrote it until several days after she won the contest," said her dad, noting that his daughter tried her hardest but failed to keep it a secret from him until Father's Day.

"Lily has grown up with Vee (the dog) as her sister and they even celebrate their birthdays together. So it's no wonder that Lily would choose this to write about," he said.

The entire family is so thrilled about Lily's notoriety that even her grandparents from north Georgia are driving down to watch the parade.

Moreover, Brandon's 2016 Honorary Mayor, will make his official debut in the parade. The winner in the charitable fundraising program will be announced the morning of the parade. Craig Beckinger, Chuck Burgess and George Shea have vied for the title this year, each staging a number of fundraisers through the month of June.

Brandon Fourth of July parade organizers say event is largest in Florida 06/29/16 [Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2016 2:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4


    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  2. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 28


    Alabama: The country music all-timers hit the road for the Southern Drawl tour with openers, the Charlie Daniels Band. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $26-$86. (813) 301-2500.

    Handout photo of Alabama, performing 5/28/17 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Credit: Alan Messer
  4. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach



    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  5. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires


    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O’Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Evita in April.