The City of Clearwater joined the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas Branch of the NAACP for a breakfast, march, and rally today. This was the 34th annual event marking the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. At the breakfast held at the North Greenwood Aquatic and Recreation Center, Shawn McCoy, past president of the NAACP Youth Council, gave the keynote address. A march to Coachman Park with the Countryside High School and the Largo High School bands, numerous social organizations, and church congregations followed. There, Dr. Randy Lightfoot spoke, and I presented a proclamation to Ms. Marva McWhite, branch president. Music, arts and crafts, food, and children’s activities continued into the early afternoon.
The Streinbrenner Family and the New York Yankees hosted a special holiday concert for at-risk students of Pinellas County at Ruth Eckerd Hall this morning. The Florida Orchestra, now in its 50th anniversary season, joined with John and Mary K. Wilson in performing various holiday and Christmas music for the students. Dancers from the Ballet Theatre International danced to Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” and Tino Martinez read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” As the concert concluded, the Tampa Yankees mascot Blue welcomed Santa Claus on stage, and then both helped distribute New York Yankee souvenir bags to the students.
The City of Clearwater today paused to commemorate with Albanian-Americans the 105th Anniversary of Albanian Independence. On November 28 1912, 83 delegates came to Vlore, Albania, to participate in an assembly which led to call for independence from the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Albanian Heritage Foundation coordinate this morning’s brief program at City Hall, raised the Albanian Flag, and then celebrated with Albanian folk dances. Gezuar Pavarsine!
The Pinellas Reading Council and Barnes & Noble in Clearwater hosted a reading event today at the store to promote a holiday book program. The stores in Clearwater and St. Petersburg will be encouraging customers to make a book donation for a child as a gift. Since the books will be distributed through the Pinellas County School system, school superintendent Dr. Michael Grego and I were at the Clearwater store to kick-off the promotion by reading to students. Dr. Grego read “Great Joy” to the students, and since it was November 1st, my book was “In November.” We both reminded the students of the importance and joy of reading and encouraged the parents to do the same.
The City of Clearwater and PSTA have joined together for a new bus transit center on Clearwater Beach. The center will be used as a transfer point for the Jolley Trolley and PSTA buses that go from downtown Clearwater to St. Pete Beach along the entire length of Gulf Boulevard. Bandes Construction will be building the facility which should be completed for Spring Break, 2018. Bus riders will find the center conveniently located for the beach and its many restaurants and hotels by foot or by other transportation options available on Clearwater Beach.
The City of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has opened “Second Century Studios” in downtown Clearwater’s Water’s Edge Condominium. Located at the corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola, the studio will host rotating artistic exhibits by featured local artists who will also be working at the studios. In addition, the CRA will feature information on the “Imagine Clearwater” redevelopment plans for the bluff and Coachman Park. A special preview reception and ribbon-cutting was held on Friday, September 29th with CRA staff, local businessmen, and Jennie Pearl of Bazaar Art that is coordinating the artists’ participation.
During the City of Clearwater’s Centennial Year, the Clearwater High School Tornadoes and the Countryside Cougars participated in the Mayor’s Cup centennial football game. The Tornadoes won that initial contest. The game was not played last year because of weather, and the schedules of both teams could not be adjusted to provide a make-up date. This year the game was played on Monday night because the original contest was postponed because of Hurricane Irma. By a score of 35-14, Clearwater High School defeated the Countryside Cougars to retain the cup.