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This city welcomes the lazy, crazy days of summer with an ambitious weekend of entertainment beginning tonight. The lineup includes a New Orleans jazz parade and concert, a choral concert by New Century Opera, a performance of Mozart's Titus and a deliciously malicious comedy Hate Mail.

"This is our summer solstice weekend and we wanted to make it extra special and provide a little something for everyone," said Kathleen Monahan, the city's cultural and civic services director.

The events are part of Tarpon Springs' fourth annual Summer Solstice Festival of the Performing Arts, a marathon of theatrical shows, concerts and other entertainment scheduled through Aug. 24.

New to this year's festival is a celebration of Big Easy culture featuring the Hot 8 Brass Band of New Orleans. Hot 8 has performed across the country, throughout Europe and annually at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The band has been featured in Spike Lee films and has helped to bring music and instruments to communities across the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

On Saturday morning, join Hot 8 as it leads a traditional "second line" flash parade through the streets of Tarpon Springs.

For the uninitiated, this is a slow-moving parade modeled after a New Orleans-style funeral procession, only there's no coffin, mourners or cemetery visit. Jazz funerals trace their roots back to the 19th century, when African-American processions consisted of a "first line" made up of close friends and family, and a "second line," consisting of those who joined in along the way.

At 9 a.m., breakfast sandwiches will be served and children's maskmaking activities will take place at the Union Academy Family Center. The procession follows at 11 a.m. and meanders along Grosse Avenue to the Tarpon Springs Public Library, where more jazz and activities will take place.

Later, at 8 p.m., Hot 8 brings its funky jazz sounds to the stage of the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $26, $23 for members and students. Before the show, the Zante Cafe serves up complimentary tastes of Cajun jambalaya to ticket holders.

"It will be an authentic New Orleans experience," said Monahan.

Correspondent Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at

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Some songs, a few laughs and a bit of jazz

New Orleans inTarpon Springs

When: Preparade activities and breakfast start Saturday at 9 a.m. and are followed by an 11 a.m. parade; jambalaya tasting begins at 7 p.m., with a Hot 8 jazz concert at 8.

Where: The flash parade begins at the Union Academy Family Center, 401 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and continues along Grosse Avenue to the Tarpon Springs Public Library at 138 E Lemon St. The jambalaya tasting and concert areat the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St.

Cost: Parade and activities are free; concert tickets are $26;$23 for members and students

Info: (727) 942-5605 or


New Century Opera Chorus in Concert

Pianist Constantine Grame directs this evening featuring selected favorites from Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Sullivan and others. Some songs will be sung in English, some in their original languages.

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane

Cost: $14; $10 for members and students

Info: (727) 942-5605 or


Mozart's Titus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Italian opera, Titus, was composed in 1791, the year he died. On Sunday, New Century Opera presents the two-act tale about love, power, revenge and forgiveness in English. The opera revolves around Roman Emperor Titus and Vitellia, a woman who wants to be his wife. When he selects another for the role of empress, she cooks up a plot to assassinate him.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where:Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St.

Cost: $22; $18 for members and students

Info: (727) 942-5605


Hate Mail, a comedy

The sardonic comedy follows the kooky correspondence between a man and woman after he complains about a defective snow globe and gets her fired. Through it all, they experience the emotions of friendship, love and hate but not necessarily in that order.

When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave.

Cost: $16; $14 for members, students

Info: (727) 942-5605 or