Founder’s Day to return in 2023

Don’t plan on lining up along Fifth Avenue for a Founders Day Parade until March of 2023.

There was no discussion Monday night to reschedule the parade to any date in 2022 after the event was cancelled due to the possibility of dangerous weather.

During the Main Street Zephyrhills report to the members of City Council during the Community Redevelopment Agency meeting, it was determined that the parade will resume at its regularly scheduled date in March of 2023.

Members of City Council, who sits as the CRA Board, commended the Main Street Board of Directors for making the difficult decision of cancelling the event. It was also reported there was a lack of communication during the decision making process when City Manager Billy Poe, Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc and Police Chief Derek Brewer were not consulted until after the decision was made.

Council strongly advised the organization to have a rain date set for future events to ensure every option is available to deliver events as promised.

Gail Hamilton, the CRA Director, reported that a morning forecast for the time of the parade showed a 100 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms. She noted that vendors and volunteers were cancelling because of the impending weather.

“People from the Sheriff’s Department were concerned because they had people coming from all over the county and they had their (mounted) posse and they wanted a decision,” Hamilton explained. “At that moment, that was the decision that was made to cancel the event.

“The issue Main Street learned out of it was it didn’t rain and we didn’t have a back-up plan.”

Hamilton said the Main Street Board will include the city manager, police chief and public works director in the discussion before any cancellation is made.

“In hindsight being 20-20, we should have included the city and staff,” Hamilton said. “Going forward, it will be done. We will create standard operating procedures with the help of Billy (Poe) and the police chief and Shane (LeBlanc) our public works director and we won’t have this issue again.”

Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, the council liaison to Main Street said the board acted with good intentions but effective communications with the city is important.

“They made the decision with the best interest of the public at hearT,” Wilkeson said. “I do think the level of work public works puts into it and the fact that Mr. Poe is at the top of the sniper heap, we have to communicate effectively.”

Councilman Alan Knight praised Main Street for it decision in ensuring public safety.

“I support the decision you did,” Knight said. “It’s a tremendously hard one to make. You are darned if you do and darned if you don’t.”

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