By Tamas Mondovics

After nearly a yearlong delay due to right-of-way and permitting problems, Wawa officials were excited to finally open the company’s newest store in Valrico. Located at 2926 E. S.R. 60, in Valrico, the new store takes the company one step closer to fulfilling its expansion plan of opening 50 stores throughout its operating area this year alone, including 25 in the Mid-Atlantic market and 25 in the Florida market.

“This is our 74th store in Florida and the 29th Wawa store to open in 2015,” said Area Manager Peter Rasmussen, while members of the Strawberry Crest High School Marching Band performed in the background.

Enticing motorists with unleaded gasoline prices at $1.95 per gallon, the celebration was led by Wawa’s mascot, Wally Goose, and included a parade of Wawa’s history along with a charitable hoagie building competition between members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and the Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue.

While both five-member teams received $1,000 to the charities of their choice, the event’s winning trophy went to the Sheriff’s Office, equaling the competition at 4-4.

“We want to thank Wawa very much for their generosity,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Debbie Carter. “The money will continue to support the Lynn Sowers Memorial Foundation, which to date, distributed over $1 million to employees in need.

Several grand opening specials, such as any size fountain drink for $0.59 and any Shorti hoagie variety for $2.99 and free coffee for the following 10 days, also adds to the opening festivities.

The new Wawa store will offer customers numerous Wawa brands, such as the award-winning Wawa coffee, the Sizzli, Wawa’s hot breakfast sandwich, Wawa’s new line of specialty beverages and more.

Glad to see the new store finally open, local resident Nydia Bonnin wasted no time to fill up her gas tank in show of support as she said, “My husband and I love Wawa, and there is no doubt this new conveniently located store will be a regular stop from now on, for sure.”

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