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Royal proclamation has 13 vying for Chasco's regal robes

The question of who will fill Pasco County's royal slippers for the next year came closer to being answered Friday after the announcement of 1989 Chasco Fiesta king and queen nominations. The 68th Chasco Fiesta will be March 9-18.

Charles Jackson, coordinator of the annual Coronation Ball, said

nominations for the annual honors were slim this year. He said event sponsors the Suncoast Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Junior Service League sent 85 letters to county community organizations soliciting nominations. Groups are asked to choose people who have made major contributions to the community.

Thirteen nominations were made, Jackson said.

"It's sort of discouraging," he said. "I think many organizations are reluctant to resubmit names the following year if their candidate wasn't chosen."

Jackson said groups are encouraged to send in the names of previous candidates if they have never won.

Contestants for Queen Chasco and their nominating sponsor are: Judy Bowman, New Port Richey Rotary Club; Marilyn DeChant, New Port Richey Community Cooperative; Ginger Ramsey, Friends of Richey Suncoast Theater; Candy Slaughter, American Business Women's Association; Laurie Stierle, Rowan Eye Center; Julia Vincent, Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and Sandie Mallet, Junior Service League.

King Pithla nominations are: Marc Bowman, Rotary Club of New Port Richey; Bob Baker, Rowan Eye Center; Jim Downey, Holiday Kiwanis Club; Bill Ramsey, Friends of Richey Suncoast Theater; Daniel Rock, New Port Richey Community Cooperative; and Henry Spenceley, North Suncoast Chiropractic Society.

Jackson said the five-member Coronation Ball committee will choose the fiesta king and queen Feb. 28, but the decisions will remain secret until the royal couple is crowned March 9.

Tickets to the Coronation Ball are $50 per person and available at the Suncoast Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired; call (813) 845-3770. The royal event will be at the Spartan Manor on Massachusetts Avenue. The evening consists of a cocktail hour, a prime rib dinner and a dance.

The West Pasco Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual Chasco Fiesta. An organization meeting Friday brought together 28 civic groups that will sponsor various festival events.

The Calusa Indian Pageant, a tradition formerly under the direction of Willard Clark, is back on the festival agenda after an eight-year absence. The pageant is a dramatic re-creation of the fictional legend of Queen Chasco, King Pithla and their lives with the Calusa Indians.

Clark died in 1981 after directing the pageant for several years. The popular event has not been in the festival since, said Earl Meyer, Chamber executive director.

"It's kind of exciting to have this come back," he said.

Sandy Mallet of the Junior Service League said the club has taken on the event, which will be performed by students of the Genesis School in New Port Richey. The pageant will be March 15 in Sims Park.

The West Pasco Kiwanis Club, annual sponsors of the Chasco flea market, will give festival patrons a new event this year. Bob Penn said the club will hold a Chasco Pancake Breakfast on March 18 under a tent at U.S. 19 and Green Key Road. Tickets are $2.50 for the all-you-can-eat meal.

Another new festival event is a pork barbecue, sponsored by the Chamber. Meyer said the pork meal replaces the beef barbecue normally sponsored by the West Pasco Sertoma Club. Meyer said the Sertoma Club will not participate in this year's festival because of a conflict with carnival contracts. The pork barbecue will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 10 in Sims Park.

In other festival news, Meyer said several registration deadlines are approaching, and advance ticket sales are in progress.

Deadlines are: Street parade, Feb. 28; flea market and antique sale, March 10;

baby pageant, March 14, $5 fee per baby; horseshoe contest, March 15, 9 a.m. at the New Port Richey Recreation Center, $2 per person; boat parade, March 16, $10 fee per boat; shuffleboard tournament, March 13, 9 a.m.; and the Chasco Run Classic, March 17, 8 a.m. at the recreation center, $7 in advance.

Tickets for the pork barbecue are on sale for $5 until March 9. A ticket at the event will cost $5.50. Tickets for a chicken barbecue are $4 until March 15; the price at the door is $4.75.

For information about registration or ticket sales, call the Chamber at (813) 842-7651.