Tessera of Brandon, winner of Best Decorated Vehicle. (Photo credit: Linda Chion.)

The annual Greater Brandon Fourth of July serves as a walking billboard of local offerings, including businesses and nonprofits that contribute to the quality of life in the Greater Brandon area and beyond.

This year was no exception, with awards granted again to some of the most creative and spirited units in the march, as well as the most colorful.

In that regard, Best Krewe went to Costumers With a Cause, founded 13 years ago by T.J. McDonnell and a group of friends. According to McDonnell, the club donates “100 percent of whatever we raise whenever we raise it” while living in the cosplay world, which entails playing a character in costume, and often to bring moments of joy to hospital-bound youth.

Many of the parade award recipients recognized at The Regent in Riverview on July 12 cater to kids or seniors, including Boy Scouts of America, awarded Best Marching Unit, and Tessera of Brandon, a senior living community, which won the award for Best Decorated Vehicle.

In all, 10 awards were given, including the Best Overall Award, which went to Slingshots of Tampa Bay, founded in 2017 by U.S. Navy veteran Dwayne Aikens of Riverview as a family-oriented group for owners of the Polaris Slingshot, a three-wheeled vehicle that is a cross between automobile and motorcycle. Given the Slingshot’s crowd-drawing appeal, especially with music and light upgrades, the club offers its services for networking and fundraising events.

Among additional awards presented, Best Musical Marching Unit went to the New World Celts, which is dedicated to promoting and supporting Celtic history and culture. Heroes Paradise, an outdoor laser and archery tag center in Brandon, received Best Amateur Float. Best Professional Float went to Hillsborough County Fair organizers, set for the 2023 fair from Saturday, November 2 through Tuesday, November 12 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover at 215 Sydney Washer Rd.

Rounding out the award recipients are Brandon Moose Lodge, for Most Unusual Vehicle, and GFWC Brandon Junior Woman’s Club, for Best Theme. As for Best Youth Cheerleaders, that went to Waterset Oilers, set to start its inaugural football and cheerleader season on rented fields at the newly opening SouthShore Sportsplex in Apollo Beach.

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