The Welsh Society of the Sun Coast president Clark Parry and his wife Lucinda Durkee represented the group at the Florida State Fair on Celtic Day last year.
SEMINOLE – The Welsh Society of the Suncoast will hold its next meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21, noon, at the Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church, 8508 113th St.
The groups trace its roots back to the 1920s, said its president Clark Parry, when the Welsh from northern parts of the United States, as well as Welsh-Canadians, would travel to Florida to spend their winters.
“They’d come down in little enclaves,” Parry said. “They’d get together to hear news of the old country and to speak Welsh.”
Today, the group carries on the tradition of its first meetings, gathering to preserve Welsh customs and the language. They also sing Gymanfa Ganu or Welsh hymn songs and folk tunes, and share cultural food, such as Welsh cake.
And there are still a good number of snowbirds who travel down to the region each year and are active in the society, especially Welsh-Canadians.
“We start all of our meetings with ‘O’ Canada’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’” Parry said.
The group’s membership is composed of a mix of seasonal and year-round residents. For that reason, winter and early spring is the busiest time of year for the society, Parry said. There are about 80 members on the books – though he’s seen it as high as 100 – and about 30 come out for each potluck meeting. Members, mostly second- and third-generation Welsh these days, come from as far away as Sarasota and Spring Hill.
“Folks from all over the sun coast come out,” Parry said.
Memberships for 2014 are now being accepted. If interested in joining, send a $10 check or money order to: Nancy Mellican, 6 Fernery Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695. Membership includes a year of monthly newsletters, and admittance to the meetings held on the third Tuesday of each month, as well as to special events, such as the annual State Fair Display and the Welsh Hymn Sing.
Another popular event is the St. David’s Day banquet, held this year on March 2 at 4 p.m. St. David is the patron saint of Wales.
The Jan. 21 meeting is a travelogue program, featuring a DVD showcasing the scenery of Wales. Members will be encouraged to share tales of their own travels to Wales.