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Town shows civic pride with Brandon Blast and July 4 parade

BRANDON — Before the colorful floats begin to line up on Lumsden Road, before the convertibles, festooned with red, white and blue decorations, roll into order, they will come.

Moms and dads, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles — armed with lawn chairs, coolers, umbrellas and the occasional water gun — will post up along Parsons Avenue and Robertson Street on Saturday for Brandon's Fourth of July parade, one of the community's largest annual events. Organizers expect more than 30,000 spectators.

"We've been doing the parade for nearly 60 years," said Janine Nickerson, president of the Community Roundtable, the group that organizes the parade. "We have people staking out their spot at 5 a.m. because this is a very hometown parade and it's truly a family tradition."

Nickerson promises easy access to parking as well as enough space for all of Brandon to join the celebration, which will kick off at 10 a.m. Drivers can expect road closures on Lumsden from Kings Avenue east to Parsons, Parsons north to Brandon Boulevard and Robertson west to the Brandon Mall shopping complex. Kings Avenue also will be closed from Brandon Boulevard south to Lumsden.

This year's "Red, White and Blue" themed parade will be kicked off by the honorary mayor, who is chosen based on his or her fundraising efforts. Kerrie Hoenig and Michelle Hernandez are vying for the honor and the winner will be named at 8 a.m.

LaWayne Wyatt will continue his role as parade marshal. Participants will include the 2015 Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship winner and Bloomingdale High graduate Mallory Hillary as well as Brandon's 2015 Father of the Year Edy Hernandez.

More than 100 entries were submitted for participants, floats and marching bands to be judged during the parade.

Later in the day, Westfield Brandon will stage the 11th annual Brandon Blast, starting at 6 p.m. The family-friendly event will have live music, children's activities and fireworks at approximately 9 p.m.

To keep guests cool, last year's firework show was the first Brandon Blast to be preceded by many indoor events, and according to Westfield Brandon marketing director Dawn Arvidson. This year they will be following suit as the indoor events proved successful.

While general shopping hours will remain 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., only the restaurants and main corridor stores will stay open during the Brandon Blast events.

"We have everything from face painters to character meet-and-greets, to balloon artists and chances to win a shopping spree," Arvidson said. "We have a lot of entertainment for young families and it's becoming a tradition in the community."

For the kids, facepainting, Mr. Tommy Live and meet-and-greets with Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Tinkerbell and the Little Mermaid, Bearemy and the Snow Queen & Sister will be available.

"Westfield Brandon is a very family-friendly place, so we partnered with Tampa Bay Moms Group and it seemed like a perfect fit," Arvidson said. "They're sponsoring all of the character meet-and-greets, so they're contributing something special this year."

The event will also feature a local band playing on the Hard Rock stage in the courtyard starting at 5:30.

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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