Brandon’s 52nd Annual Fourth Of July Parade Changes Time, Route

By Jennifer Silverstein

Started in 1958, the Brandon Fourth of July Parade has become a tradition for many area families. The Community Roundtable (formerly The Presidents’ Roundtable) had been formed just one year prior and wanted to do something to give back to the community which came in the form of today’s well-known parade. That tradition continues to this day; however, this year marks the first for a new parade starting time and route.“We changed the time because I have been a judge for six years and was in the parade for two, so I know how hot it can get,” said President of the Roundtable, George May. “Last year, we had people waiting for the parade to start just baking. Finally, someone asked me why the parade wasn’t just moved to the evening. It was like a light bulb came on.”With the theme, “Defenders of Freedom,” the Brandon Fourth of July Parade will be held on Sunday, July 4, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the intersection of Lakewood Dr. and Brandon Pkwy., heading north on Lakewood. From there, the parade route takes a right on Oakfield Dr. and will end at the back of Burlington Coat Factory in the parking lot. Before the parade begins, the morning of July 4, the new Honorary Mayor of Brandon will be announced as the candidate who raised the most money for local charities. Riding through the streets of Brandon during the parade, the Father of the Year will also be announced as chosen by the Roundtable from the submission of local children who wrote about their dads in school.The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and the Bloomingdale Fire Department will offer their support by providing volunteers.This year, as in the past, participants in the parade will include local active military and veterans. The Bloomingdale and Brandon bands will once again join forces, playing patriotic music through the streets. It will include local organizations such as the Rough Riders, Moose Lodge, Shriners, MacDill Color Guard and various car and motorcycle clubs.Also expected are some local football and cheerleading groups such as the Brandon Ravens (formerly the Brandon Steelers) as well as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. “We’re trying to get more floats and fewer cars,” May said. “And, for the first time I know of, the Roundtable will have a float in the parade. We partnered with Young Professionals (YP) Brandon, who are building and decorating our float.”Saturday, June 12 is the deadline for floats, costing $150. The Roundtable will also be allowing more throwaways such as beads and candy. Food vendors, with a purchased permit, will set up along the route serving hot dogs, hamburgers and shaved ice. “We’re anticipating the parade to be bigger and better than ever before. We’re bringing back the throws,” he continued. “It will be cooler in the evening and afterwards, you have the option of staying to see the fireworks. It’s a win-win all around.” Dawn Arvidson, marketing director for Westfield Brandon, said the Brandon Blast will begin around 9 p.m. or whenever it is dark enough to see the fireworks. She is expecting the same amount of people as in previous years.“They will be visible anywhere on property.  Visitors can park anywhere and they will be able to see them,” she said. “They are launched further away from the building for safety reasons.”   The Community Roundtable hosts the Community Affairs Dinner annually, taking place in May every year, which is used to announce awards, including the participants in the honorary mayor’s race, which it also puts on annually. It is also involved in the Halloween Horribles Parade at Center Place as well as its Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  The Community Roundtable is the host of the event. May, who has been the president since September of 2009, said he contributed to changing the name to adapt to the times. The Roundtable meets the second Wednesday of the month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Center Place, 619 Vonderburg Dr., Ste. B, in Brandon and is open to the public. “That’s why we changed the name. It’s open to everyone,” he concluded.

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