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Sunshine, added events bring more to Pow Wow

Organizers estimate 10,000 to 12,000 people flocked to the Pow Wow on Saturday _ thousands more than have attended the city's annual festival and parade in the past.

They attribute the unexpected increase to a sunshine-filled day, additional food, arts and craft vendors and new activities, such as a barbecue chicken dinner and a dance.

"Every year, it gets a little bigger," Mayor Dottie Reeder said, "and a little better."

In the next few weeks, organizers will start assessing the Pow Wow and determine what changes they want to make for next year's festival, scheduled for March 21.

Since the Pow Wow was resurrected in 1994, organizers have changed the number of days the festival has lasted, tried planning it on the same day as other citywide events and added a parade and carnival rides.

Recreation Director Tracy Jones said next year they may consider adding fireworks, a trade show for specialized business like cosmetics or Tupperware and give out awards during a car or motorcycle show.

Despite a low turnout this year, the Greater Seminole Chamber of Commerce will bring back a dance for adults but probably will not have it immediately after the daylong celebration when many people already have had a full day.

"Everybody who was there had a good time," said Pat Schmoranz, executive director for the chamber. "It was only the first year. It has good potential. With the right publicity and planning, it could really pack the house."

About 100 people, paying $5 each, attended the Be Bop Ball. The chamber, which paid for live music and some snacks, lost money on the event.

Schmoranz said the chamber will hold a dance the weekend before or after next year's Pow Wow, and possibly another in the next six months, which would not be connected to the Pow Wow.

Festival organizers also want to alleviate some of the problems experienced this year.

They say they need more volunteers to help keep traffic off the parade route and a sheriff's deputy to be stationed outside the recreation center to direct crowds across 113th Street.

Organizers say they need to encourage more marching bands to participate in the hourlong parade from Seminole Mall to the recreation center. This year, only Seminole High School's band performed in the parade, earning an automatic $1,000 for its participation.

And they plan to make sure there are no hookup problems for the carnival rides. This year, some rides could not be used.

The city has not finished tabulating bills from the Pow Wow, but organizers say the festival made money based on the number of people who attended. The money will go toward next year's Pow Wow.