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All that's left is the echo

By Monday afternoon, all that was left of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday were the pigeons eating the leftovers. But during the previous four days at Coachman Park, organizers estimated about 70,000 people braved heat and rain, bought T-shirts and posters, and listened to the classy music that the 11-year-old festival has become known for.

The rain dampened Sunday night's grand finale, but many fans of local jazz vocalist Fred Johnson stayed put.

"He has such dedicated fans that they stayed (during the rain), and he played an extra half-hour," said Nancy Kaylor, chairwoman of this year's event. Kaylor has worked as a Jazz Holiday volunteer since 1984.

Kaylor said volunteers stayed to clean up Coachman Park until 2 a.m. Monday, and another crew arrived at 8 a.m. to finish the job. "The last thing to leave will be the neon Jazz Holiday sign," she said Monday afternoon.

Temperatures soared to the 90s during daytime performances. "We forgot to order a little cooler temperatures," Kaylor said. "Soft drink sales were wonderful, and we ran out of T-shirts and then sold more sweat shirts. The posters sold out, and we are reprinting them."

Jazz Holiday posters may be ordered by sending $13 to P.O. Box 7278, Clearwater 34618.

Clearwater police officers and firefighters marched around one end of the jazz festival site with picket signs all four days, protesting the city's offer of a 1.5 percent pay increase. The unions are seeking 6 percent.

Kaylor said she heard some negative comments about the picketers, but said several had come over to apologize, and many purchased souvenirs and refreshments to support the festival.

"As distasteful as it was, and as disappointed as I was in their choice of locations, they were very cooperative," she said. "By the time the crowd got so big Saturday, you didn't even notice them."

Peter Fire, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 10, said picketers gave away 10,000 stickers supporting their cause. "A lot of people there didn't know what was going on," he said. "A lot of people asked a lot of questions."

Fire said he heard no negative comments and thought the picketers' goal _ to inform the public of their pay-raise dispute _ was achieved.

The festival was organized this year for the first time by the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation. In previous years, the Chamber of Commerce organized the event. Kaylor said the foundation has not totaled the profits, which will be used for educational programs and to help keep future Jazz Holiday performances free.

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