Column: Seminole lifts spirits with parade

The Seminole City Council led a Seminole Strong/Seminole Cares vehicle parade to show appreciation and support for two of the city’s beloved senior communities, Seminole Gardens and Freedom Square, whose residents continue to practice the safer-at-home guidelines. The parade included Mayor Leslie Waters, shown above, Seminole city councilors, the city manager, and employees representing all city departments. The parade festivities lasted 45 minutes as the 13-vehicle motorcade, with sirens blaring and lights flashing, navigated through the Seminole Gardens and Freedom Square communities in a show of unity.

Everyone loves a parade. I know I do! And so do the residents of Seminole Gardens and Freedom Square, Seminole City Council members, city management, staff and employees.

The “Seminole Cares, Stronger Together Parade” of Friday, May 15, was like no other parade that ever rolled through the city streets. This parade had no festive floats, no marching bands.

The Seminole Cares Parade was a city-specific salute and shout-out to the residents of Seminole Gardens and Freedom Square. Both, usually vibrant 55-plus living communities, with hundreds of residents, now pretty much sheltering-in-place for way too long due to the COVID-19 virus, and were in need and appreciation of a parade!

Parade step-off time was 1:15 p.m., and one parade participant after another staged at the north side of Studio Movie Grille.

Deputy Tiffany Ashcom, with her siren at the ready, whoop whoop, led the parade. Next, the mayor stood-up through the sunroof of her car, followed by Seminole council members Thom Barnhorn, Trish Springer, Roger Edelman, Jim Olliver, and Jim Quinn, all attired in red-white-blue, were waving to the residents, and providing thumbs-up signaling to everyone to hold strong as we work our way through this public health crisis.

Next, city work vehicles rolled, one after another, one more significant to our citizens than the other - a fire engine, their siren blasting-out whoop whoops, the Public Works bucket truck, the Public Works pickup truck, Public Works dump truck, a Fire Administration vehicle, the Recreation bus, several other city vehicles, and bringing up the end of our Seminole Cares parade were City Manager Ann Toney-Deal and Fire Chief Heather Burford.

“Seminole Cares,” and “Stronger Together” posters were displayed on city cars and trucks. Lorie Tonti, Seminole Library director, taped a “Stay Well With Books” sign on the side of her car. Recreation Director Becky Gunter was passing out balloons. Public Works Director Rodney Due and crew displayed “Stay Safe,” “We miss you,” and “See you soon” signs.

Prior notice had been given to residents that a parade would be coming through; excitement and anticipation was in the air. The afternoon breeze helped with the face mask situation for many, as we noodled through Seminole Gardens and took a lap around Freedom Square providing entertainment and smiles to residents that had been sheltering in place due to the virus for way too long. Residents held up signs of appreciation from their balconies and in their windows.

To my surprise and delight, Seminole Gardens residents banged pots and pans and held up “Thank You” posters, and a man energetically rang a cow bell as we passed by, a man sitting on a bench holding a hand-made patriotic “Great job” poster, and at Freedom Square, flag wavers were out-in-style.

As I took in the moment, with a tear in my eye, I was proud to be the mayor of our big-little city, where a city that cares was on full display, and citizens appreciating every minute of the “Seminole Cares, Stronger Together” parade.

Folks, this Seminole-specific parade rolled-out and “strutted” part of the city’s fleet of vehicles with pride that sunny Friday afternoon. Wow, fun even broke out, and a good time was had by all. Everyone’s morale, spectators and participants, soared for the first time in a long time.

Thank you, citizens of Seminole.

This too shall pass.

Leslie Waters is the mayor of the city of Seminole.