NEW PORT RICHEY
The Chasco Fiesta returns to Pasco County on Friday for the 68th time. The nine-day, multiple-venue event, which kicks off with the Lighthouse Coronation Ball and ends with a country music concert, features family-friendly fun, food and music.
In the spirit of the first Chasco Fiesta, it's all for a good cause.
In 1922, the event started as a fundraiser for the local library, said Kelly Hackman, executive director of Chasco Fiesta Inc.
"Our focus remains on how we can help other nonprofits raise money," she said.
This year's event, to benefit 25 nonprofit organizations including Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, the Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation and Salvation Army of Pasco, brings back favorite attractions, including a street parade.
"The community really rallies around the street parade," said Hackman. "It's the second largest attended parade in the Tampa Bay area, behind Gasparilla."
A preparade showcase will feature the Gulf Side Corvette Club and 17 krewes will toss beads to the crowd during the parade.
"The beads are a big draw," said Hackman.
Other returning attractions include the coronation ball, the American Indian pow wow, the flea market, the golf and bowling tournaments, the classic car show and the boat parade, plus daily music at Sims Park. Musicians scheduled to perform include Christian artist Aaron Shust, bluegrass band David Davis and the Warrior River Boys and country music group Gloriana.
New to the Chasco Fiesta this year are the Special Olympics 5K Fun Run and a physical fitness endurance event called Making the Cut.
Making the Cut, to benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Gold Star children of the Special Operations community, gives participants a shot at training with special ops. The Army's Green Berets and the Pasco County SWAT team will divide participants into teams at Grey Preserve and guide them through training exercises to Sims Park. Exercises will including a rope course over the Pithlachascotee River, a swim in the river and a march with 30-pound packs.
"There's something for mom and dad and kids and grandma and grandpa," Hackman said. Last year, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people showed up at Chasco Fiesta events. This year, Hackman expects as many to attend.
"It's exciting to be part of an organization that within nine days last year raised over $245,000," she said. It makes "New Port Richey a highlight in the bay area and beyond."
Arleen Spenceley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6235.