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FishHawk-Riverview Rotary to host free community event

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image More than 3,000 visitors attended last year’s Lighted Boat Parade on the Alafia River.

“We’d love to see more boats join us. It’s open to anyone who wants to decorate their boat for the holidays.”

By PENNY FLETCHER

RIVERVIEW — Knowing there is strength in numbers, the FishHawk and Riverview Rotary clubs joined forces about 18 months ago and have since watched their membership climb.

Now the group of about 30 members is working as a team to raise funds for scholarships, which has been a Riverview Rotary service project for more than 20 years.

The main annual event is the Lighted Boat Parade, which this year will take place Dec. 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. and can be viewed from the International Independent Showmen’s Association at 6915 Riverview Drive (just east of U.S. 41) where other events will also be taking place.

“Last year about 3,000 people attended the (boat) parade,” said Mara Shaughnessy, an attorney who maintains an office in the Bloomingdale area of Brandon. “We’d love to see more boats join us. It’s open to anyone who wants to decorate their boat for the holidays.”

Shaughnessy has been busy doing the publicity for this year’s parade, while many others are hard at work pulling together events for all ages.

With the help of their committee persons, Sandi Meadows, this year’s parade chairwoman, and Dr. Kimberly Tyson, owner of Four Paws Veterinary Hospital in Riverview who chaired the event in 2011, have lined up events for visitors of all ages.

“Right now we have eight or 10 boats,” said Meadows. “Admission is free and $5 buys as much chili as you can eat at the Chili Cook-off (which is part of the event).”

Money from the cook-off will go into the Scholarship Fund, which last year donated $1,000 to each of three high schools in the area, Riverview and Spoto in Riverview and Newsome in the FishHawk area of Lithia.

Other ways they will make the money for scholarships that night will be by selling tickets to two raffles; a silent raffle and a “cooler raffle” which will raffle off alcoholic beverages.

Prizes for the silent raffle are gift baskets of various products and services donated by area businesses, Meadows said.

“There are about 50 really, really nice prizes. The businesses have been very generous,” she said.

Many free events will also be available including photos with Santa, a Children’s’ Activity Area planned and manned by Riverview’s YMCA Camp Cristina, entertainment and music and of course- viewing the Lighted Boat Parade, which will pass by the  Showmen’s grounds on the Alafia River and be judged by a panel of pre-selected judges.

Winners of the Large Boat category will receive $500; Second Place $250; while winners of the Small Boat category will be awarded $350 with a Second Place prize of $150.

A portion of the prize money will be raised from the $25 entry fee per boat and the rest from proceeds from the $5 charge for bowls of chili.

A $100 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of the Chili Cook-off as well.

“We’re really excited to have Devin Davis participating with his nationally-award-winning Collard-Green Chili,” Meadows said. “The teenager has won a lot of awards both locally and nationally.”      

For more information about the FishHawk-Riverview Rotary Club or the Lighted Boat Parade, visit www.FishHawk-RiverviewRotary.org.

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