Founders’ Day set for May 21

Partnership with ZHS helps save annual event

Mark your calendars folks. Founders’ Day in Zephyrhills will officially take place May 21 and it will have some very special guests this year.

Joining in on the celebration of the town’s “Founders and Future” will be the graduating seniors of Zephyrhills High School. This year’s Founders’ Day parade will partner with the ZHS Senior Parade, which has become an end of year tradition.

Main Street Event Committee Chairman Devin Alexander reported to members of City Council Monday night that the celebration of Founders’ Day will kick off at 4 p.m. with food trucks, vendors and entertainment. The parade will follow at 7 p.m.

The 2022 parade was initially cancelled by Main Street Zephyrhills because of the date conflict with the annual Pigz N Z’hills BBQ and Blues Festival. Both events were set for the same day and city resources and sponsorship dollars would be spread too thin to accommodate both events. City Council members asked Main Street to come up with an alternate solution to bring the parade back this year.

“Thank you City Council and the community for your feedback about Founders’ Day,” Alexander said. “We heard you we went back to the drawing board and came up with a game plan to make sure Founders’ Day happens this year.”

Alexander said a meeting with ZHS Principal Dr. Christina Stanley last week brought about a renewed excitement to honor the founders of the city as well as its future.

“I think she was more excited that I’ve ever been about this idea,” Alexander explained. “She was open to the idea. We are going to have it May 21 so the high school band and the JROTC can participate. It works out pretty nicely. The evenings in May aren’t too hot and it gets dark around 8 p.m.”

The theme for the event is “From Founders to Future” honor the community’s past history and recognizing our future leaders and resident of Zephyrhills.

Founders’ Day has historically been held in early March, but this year’s conflict forced the date to be changed. Plans to move the parade back to March in 2023 are in motion, but if this year’s event is overwhelmingly successful, it could remain in May with the ZHS Seniors.

“I think it’s a wonderful plan for the community with the seniors which is going to mean you will have good attendance from the outgoing senior class and their families,” said Councilman Lance Smith. “I think it’s a great idea.”

The reimagining of the Founders’ Day parade comes at a time as participation has been in a steady decline from the mobile home park residents, who were once very prominent in the parade with floats carrying their Kings and Queens.

“For years we had a lot of participation from the mobile home parks and that has been dwindling year after year,” said Councilman Ken Burgess. “Now is a good time to look at a new avenue with the seniors. I like this idea.”

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