The bright green Panama parrot in the northwest Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Thursday afternoon squawked gently at Detective Chuck Olson, as if thanking him for returning him to his owner. Lowery, who breeds exotic birds, was at the Sheriff's Office to pick up the bird that had been stolen from his yard earlier this week along with five others. The birds range in value from $1,500 to $2,500, sheriff's investigators said. Authorities arrested three people, two of them teenage boys, Wednesday and accused them of stealing the animals and trying to sell them, sheriff's Sgt. Lance Delaney said. Detectives made the arrests after the two juveniles tried to sell a bird to a local breeder, Delaney said. The breeder got suspicious and notified authorities. "Like dog breeders or horse breeders, they're a very close-knit bunch," Delaney said. "They all notify each other when there has been a loss." Investigators arrested Jason Martinez, 20, 3418 W North A St., Apt. 10, and two boys, 14 and 15, at their homes, Delaney said. The teens' names weren't released because of their ages. Martinez is charged with grand larceny, and the juveniles are charged with grand larceny and dealing in stolen property, Delaney said. Martinez was held Thursday in lieu of $2,500 bail.
WEEKEND POWWOW TO CELEBRATE INDIAN CULTURE. A loosely organized group of American Indian artisans and traders has organized an authentic three-day powwow this weekend. "We just like to share our culture with people. People should ask questions when they come," said organizer Bill "Soaring Eagle" Martin, who is part Cherokee. "We're not into the money, we're into the education of it all." At the powwow, some 50 American Indian artisans and traders will be plying their wares, many of which are handmade. Tribal dancing, children's games and craft demonstrations also also are planned. Proceeds from gate sales will help the Sertoma Youth Ranch, Martin said, and auction proceeds will benefit the Florida Indian Traders Cooperative. Although yet to be incorporated, the co-op is a loose alliance of traders that promotes American Indian heritage by hosting educational powwows. The group held a similar event for the past two years in Sebring, but disputes with the Highlands County tax collector left the group feeling the effort was more trouble than it was worth. The previous powwows were not operating under the auspices of the co-op, which is relatively new. "A lot of these powwows are a money-making situation, just like a flea market, but we're doing it because we want to keep the old ways alive," said Martin. Nevertheless, the powwows give many traders their sole income. The Sertoma Youth Ranch is southeast of Brooksville, near the Hernando-Pasco county line. Take Spring Lake Highway (County Road 541) south from State Road 50. Turn east onto Church Road, then south onto Clay Hill Road. The powwow will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $2 per person at the gate, children 16 and under free; camping is $5 per night for primitive sites, $10 per night for sites with water and electricity.
STREET PARADE KICKS OFF CHASCO FIESTA. This year, the Chasco Fiesta street parade has reverted to its simple roots. Practically anyone with a bit of imagination is invited to enter a float unit, parade chairman Roger Michels said. The parade in New Port Richey, set for 1 p.m. Saturday, is the centerpiece for the first weekend of the 71st annual Chasco Fiesta, Pasco County's event-filled tribute to the days when Calusa Indian culture flourished here. Fiesta activities will continue through March 21. Michels said this week that nearly 200 floats, bands and social clubs will participate in a colorful 90-minute stroll through city streets before an expected crowd of more than 50,000 spectators. The first helpings of the annual West Pasco Sertoma Club beef barbecue will be served at 4 this afternoon at two locations: Sims Park and at U.S. 19 and Main Street.