Hospital Holds Annual Veterans Day Parade

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital honored veterans Nov. 11 in their ninth annual Veterans Day Parade. More than 1800 participants and 300 volunteers were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

Bruce Waters, U.S. Air Force veteran, learned many life lessons during his service and credits the military for helping him become the man he is today.

“Of all the things that can happen to you in the service, it makes a man out of you or a lady out of you, if you are a woman,” Waters said. “It teaches you responsibility.”

Retired veteran Connie White served in the Air Force for 20 years. She is now a member of the Military Women Across the Nation who walked the parade.

“I took that oath to protect my country, to guide my country in all enemies, foreign and domestic and that oath never ends,” White said. “It is always there.”

Rhonda Crawford grew up in a military family and says although it can be a challenging career, she encourages young women to join the service.

“Go for it—I enjoyed my experience so much,” Crawford said. “It makes you grow as a person that you would not believe possible; the people that you meet and the place you go, they last a lifetime.”

Honoring Veterans in Zephyrhills

Zephyrhills’ annual Veteran’s Day parade took place this Saturday. Roughly two hundred people showed up to support the veterans and show their appreciation.

After the National Anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was said, the parade participants began making their way down Fifth Avenue.

Various groups of veterans headed down the street one car or trailer at a time. They were followed by Zephyrhills High School ROTC and JROTC members, Helen’s Baton and Dance Studio dancers, several leagues of Boy Scouts and a few other veteran-supporting groups.

Also in the mix of veterans were the animals who served the country. These included dogs and horses.

Main Street Zephyrhills hosts this event every year. A member of the board of Main Street Zephyrhills, Jody Wilkeson, commented on the history of the parade.

“The Veteran’s Day parade has been going on for over ten years here in downtown,” Wilkeson said. “On and off, probably for twenty years since Main Street was first formed.”

The announcer of the parade, Greg First, was honored to recognize veterans again this year, as he has been announcing the parade for years. He too is a veteran.

“I was in during Vietnam, 1968 to 1972,” First said. “The war that no one really liked back then but I was happy to serve. I’d do it again.”

The parade reminds us to show gratitude to our veterans and remember all those who served.

 

Chasco Fiesta was a success for New Port Richey

For decades, the Chasco Fiesta has been a mainstay in the New Port Richey community. The Fiesta is a weeklong celebration of the local Chasco culture, while mixing in various fair-like activities.

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Craig McCart, one of the chief organizers of the Chasco Fiesta, has been involved with the celebration for more years than he can remember.

“I’ve been involved since back in 1974,” McCart said. “But, I’ve been on the steering committee since 1998.”

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McCart explained there are nearly 30 non-profit organizations that have come out this year to take part in the Chasco Fiesta. One of those organizations, West Pasco Sertoma, is headed up by Michael Tyler.

“We support the All Children’s Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center,” Tyler said. “We come out to the Chasco Fiesta and cook for two weekends in a row. We cook so kids can hear.”

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Tyler is just one of many that come out to the Fiesta for a noble cause. Tara Londergan is part of a women’s motorcycle group called the Diva Angels. The Diva Angels are a non-profit organization that come out and donate their time for a good cause. This year, they were working with Tyler and West Pasco Sertoma to raise funds.

“We have poker runs, last year we had a spaghetti dinner for the homeless vets,” Londergan explained. “We hang out and raise funds for other charities.”

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With all the fun and festivities, there can be times where things get a little out of hand. That’s where Officer Greg Williams of the New Port Richey Police Department comes in.

“The only issue we have sometimes is the excess alcohol use,” Williams said. “But, for the most part, it’s a good event. All different classes of people come out.”

Like Officer Williams, mostly everyone seems to agree that the Chasco Fiesta is a positive event for the community and the surrounding areas.

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“Oh, it’s awesome,” Londergan said. “It’s great for the downtown, it keeps it alive.”

The Chasco Fiesta comes to Sims Park in March of every year. It includes a big parade on the first Saturday, along with concerts throughout the week in the Sims Park Amphitheater and finishes up with a boat parade on the final weekend.