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Arts festival to help kids with disabilities

Published Oct. 9, 2005

The Pre-K Very Special Arts Festival has a new name. It is now the Alice J. Storms Pre-K Very Special Arts Festival and is scheduled for Oct. 5 on the grounds of the First Baptist Church of Brandon and the Masonic Lodge on Morgan Street.

The festival began in May 1991 with help from the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources Systems of the Hillsborough County public schools.

Children with disabilities from eastern Hillsborough County will benefit from the festival. The festival was renamed after Storms to honor her commitment to children with disabilities. She founded the program for the children at First Baptist many years ago.

Annette Simpson, publicity chairman of the festival, which is sponsored by the Women's Service League of Brandon, says this year's theme is: "Children are the heart of it all _ education through the arts."

Two hundred fifty children participated in the event last year; this year, club members are planning for 300.

"We invited anyone in the area to come and work with us to try to get them interested in doing a festival in other parts of the county," Simpson said. "Lutz and Land O'Lakes will have one in October. We hope that other clubs will do the same thing."

Festivals are held countywide for older children but, according to Simpson, this is the only one for the younger ones.

Activities will include arts and crafts, music literature, puppet theater and dancing. Wheelchairs will be decorated and there will be special activities for the hearing- and sight-impaired children.

Included in the day's activities will be a pizza picnic with a Mother Goose birthday cake. This year the cake will have three candles on it, celebrating the third year of the festival.

Members of the Brandon Junior Woman's Club will assist us they will do an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.

Sponsors are needed to help with the financial aspects of this project. Names will be listed in a program. Call Annette at 626-4870 for information.

Firework tradition to end

There will not be any fireworks on the Fourth of July in Brandon this year. A 30-year tradition has been canceled due to lack of funds. Money that was promised and needed has not come through and the sky above Brandon on Independence Day will remain dark and silent.

Dick Reinstein, president of the President's Roundtable, said a couple of last-minute calls came with small donations, but there wasn't enough money committed to save the tradition.

The holiday weekend has several events planned in Brandon, but with the fireworks canceled, nothing is scheduled for the Fourth.

On July 3, the Brandon Jaycees will hold their annual Fourth of July Children's Pageant at 1 p.m. The pageant will be held at Brandon Recreation Center, 510 Sadie St. There will be three age groups: infants, 1- to 3-year-olds and 4- to 6-year-olds. There is also a category for best costume in either the Fourth of July or the 1950s, the parade's theme.

Trophies will be awarded to all winners. Children will receive a prize and be allowed to ride in the Fourth of July parade with the Brandon Jaycees and their candidate for the honorary mayor's race.

The parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 5 and will end in the Builder's Square parking lot where festivities, including the announcement of the winner of the mayor's race, are planned.

The advance registration fee is $5 per child. For entry forms call Dena Jacobson at 684-5693 or 685-9405 in the evening. Registration the day of the pageant will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the center. The fee the day of the pageant is $8.