Neighborhood reunion brings the “family” together
There are family reunions, but in “The Quarters” in Zephyrhills, there are FAMILY REUNIONS!
Krusen Field was the site of the first Quarters Reunion, where members of the historically significant African-American neighborhood came together to celebrate unity and family.
The Quarters, located in the east-central part of the city and literally on the “other side of the tracks, was the community where everyone was family whether there was a blood connection or not. You didn’t need a direct connection to the family tree to be considered family.
“It was a great place to grow up,” said Rubin Pickett, one of the many organizers of Saturday’s event. “You have to believe when they say it takes a village to raise a child. We believe it. All of us kids were raised by every momma in the neighborhood.”
Marcus McCants, who proudly grew up in the Quarters, created a popular T-Shirt that simply said “The Quarters.” The popularity blossomed into a Quarters Facebook Page and ultimately a reunion. The reunion is a step back in time and took many back to their childhood.
“We weren’t allowed to cross the tracks back then unless we were going to school or going to town,” recalled Jimmy Campbell. “Our world was our neighborhood. That is how we were raised back then.”
The reunion was scheduled months ago without any thought that it would fall on June 19 or the newly named Federal Holiday, Juneteenth, honoring the end of slavery. It was a day on the calendar to celebrate the closeness and the history of the African-American community in Zephyrhills.
Dating back to 1910, the Giles family became the first African-American family to move to Zephyrhills. Fast forward 111 years, the Giles family, the Pickett’s, the Roberts’ and Campbell’s and hundreds more are still calling Zephyrhills their home and The Quarters’ their neighborhood.
“You look around here and see these kids together and these adults reconnecting, it’s just beautiful,” said David Giles Sr., the grandson of the first African American family to land in Zephyrhills. “My family came in March of 1910 from South Carolina to Abbott Station and my grandfather worked for Seacoast Coast Line Railroad.
“We’re honored to be part of the history of this community.”
The history will continue through the Quarters’ reunions of the future as the younger degeneration keep the tradition going. The reunion will be an annual event held the third week in June.
“This is where it all began,” said Zephyrhills Police Captain Reggie Roberts, who grew up in the Quarters “Everybody was your keeper. You couldn’t go around the block and do anything because your mom would know or you would get spanked around the block.
“This is what we have to get back to where everyone knows everyone. Events like this bring all that back together. This keeps that bond that we grew up with.”