A group of competitors display their thoughts Sept. 27 on the word fenestration, which means the openings in a wall or structure, during the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce Adult Spelling Bee.
PALM HARBOR – Venimus, vidimus, possumus recte, read the black and yellow shirts of the Palm Harbor Rotary team. Roughly translated from Latin: “we came, we saw, we spelled correctly.”
“My husband wanted a team for the Rotary Club, so here we are,” said Holly Bird, who made up the Hive Minds team along with Darice Moore, Rebecca Aurin and Randy Nilsson. “We’re just here to have fun.”
Bird’s prediction came true – the Hive Minds spelled correctly. Down to just two teams – the other remaining spellers were from the Tarpon Springs Rotary Club – the Hive Minds won the first Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce adult spelling bee on the word “grandiloquent.”
Twelve teams of three or four people competed in the spelling bee, held at The Centre in Palm Harbor on Sept. 27. All words were from the approved 2013 Scripps Howard word list, but that’s about as far as the similarities between the competitions went.
During the first two rounds of the spelling bee, whose tagline advises competitors to “bee brilliant, bee supportive, bee involved,” teams were allowed to buy bribes that let them continue after an early elimination by spelling a word incorrectly. One bribe cost $20 and three cost $50. Teams or audience members could buy bribes.
Part of the proceeds from the event went to the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce Foundation to fund educational programs and some of the money went directly back to the chamber.
Connie Davis, the CEO and president of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce, got the idea for an adult spelling bee from her sister in Cleveland, but changed the rules to fit her chamber.
“My sister makes it serious when she hosts the spelling bee,” Davis said. “We just wanted to make it fun.”
Yellow and black balloons cluttered the room for the spelling bee, with bumblebee decorations hanging on the walls. Susan Long, a member of the chamber board of directors flitted about in her official capacity as Queen Bee to lead the audience in cheers as Davis popped the balloons of disqualified teams.
In a slightly early Halloween spirit, many of the teams came in costume, including the Talking Dead, the Flaming Bees from the Palm Harbor Fire Department, the YMCA Killer Bees, the Bumbling Nerds and the Ozona Elementary Zombees.
Tracy Trame, a fifth-grade teacher at Ozona Elementary and a member of the Zombees team, said Ozona principal Kerry Apuzzo, the moderator of the spelling bee, asked for volunteers. Fellow Ozona teachers Jan Demers, Barrie Evans and Lyza Rutzoski made up the Zombees.
“We were at such a disadvantage,” Trame joked. “We only know words at a fifth grade level and below.”
The Zombees were eliminated in the third round on the word “roguish,” but the team walked away with the award for best group costume, and Demers won for best individual costume. Winners were presented with a jar of Bit-O-Honey, keeping with the bee theme of the night.
Kelli Snow, secretary of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said she couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout for the event. But still, expectations are high for the next bee.
“We’re going to triple the size (of the spelling bee) next year,” she said.