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The Festival of States, a springtime festival, drew thousands to St. Petersburg.

The Festival of States, launched in 1917 to keep visitors in St. Petersburg past spring, drew thousands to its parades through the years.
Corporate sponsorships became part of the Festival of States in 1985-86. The TradeWinds Resort of St. Pete Beach became a sponsor. Photos courtesy : Suncoasters/Festival of States
Published Apr. 5
Updated Apr. 8
The Seabreeze High School band from Daytona Beach marches south on Bayshore Drive during the Festival of States parade in 1966.
A float in the Festival of States parade.
A car is festooned for an early Festival of States parade.

One of its legacies has been the popular Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band, formed to perform in the 1982 parade. The band of adult musicians will head to this fall’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It will be their second time around.

The cover of the 1966 Festival of States program. Visiting royalty from seven other festivals around the join a float with the Festival of States Sungoddess.
The Festival of States parade was preceded by the George Washington Day Celebration parade. Children are shown dancing the maypole along Central Avenue in 1910.
Lynda Meade, Miss America 1960, and Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959, were participants in a Festival of States parade.

The festival, organized by the Suncoasters, a group of influential leaders from the city’s business and professional communities, drew high school bands from around the country. A Sungoddess, selected each year, was joined by “royalty” from other festivals.

The parades eventually became part of the Grand Prix kickoff and stopped for good in 2014. The Suncoasters officially disbanded in 2018, but memories of their springtime festivities remain.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. was among the sponsors of floats in the Festival of States parade.
The Festival of States included many events, such as a band concert in the band shell at Williams Park.
Derby Lane was one of the sponsors of floats in the Festival of States parade.
James F. Healey, chairman of the board of Milton Roy Co., was named the 1985. Festival of States Mr. Sun. Kimberly Keesler, 20, a student at Florida State University, was crowned Sungoddess.

Read story here: The legacy of the Suncoasters, longtime promoters of springtime in St. Petersburg, lives on

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