NEW PORT RICHEY — Beads, beads and more beads, spectators can see how many beads they can collect while watching the Chasco Fiesta street parade on Saturday afternoon.
The parade anchors the first weekend of events as the nine-day festival kicks into high gear March 21-29.
People on floats will toss strings of beads to the crowd, expected to number at least 80,000 strong lining downtown New Port Richey streets. Main Street and Grand Boulevard typically provide the best vantage points.
The parade could take on even more of a Mardi Gras flavor this year, Greg Armstrong pointed out as one of the parade organizers from Holiday Rotary.
Because Pasco schools happen to be on spring break this week, Armstrong expects fewer bands to participate this year.
“Instead, we have more professional floats and Krewes,” Armstrong wrote in an email, “and as such it will be more of a Mardi Gras-style parade. Should be loads of fun.”
The 68th edition of Chasco Fiesta actually kicks off Friday night with the Native American Festival 5 to 9 p.m., carnival rides and more centered around Sims Park. Visitors can buy food or goods at booths operated by some two dozen nonprofit groups to raise money.
The Coronation Ball at 6 p.m. Friday at Spartan Manor will crown Queen Chasco and King Pithla, the royal couple who will reign over the street parade. The ball serves as a benefit for Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind.
West Pasco Sertoma Beef BBQ in Sims Park will provide lip-smacking meals with the famed Secret Sertoma Sauce for patrons Friday through Sunday.
West Pasco Historical Society sets up a memorabilia show at the museum at 6431 Grand Blvd. across from Sims Park.
Saturday morning features the Junior Service League Children’s Village from 9 a.m. until noon in the park.
The Main Street Mile race at 12:30 p.m. precedes the street parade, which begins at 1 p.m.
The Sunday slate includes the Gulf Side Corvette Club Car, Truck and Bike Show with registration 8 a.m. to noon.
Next week will come the bowling tournament on Tuesday and the golf tournament on Friday. The annual boat parade March 29 will anchor the second weekend of activities.
“We are proud to continue our Legacy of Giving, where we partner with more than 25 area nonprofits to host events or become vendors, and raise money for their organization,” Cami Austin, chairwoman for the 2014 Chasco Fiesta, said.
For instance, Sertoma Speech & Hearing Foundation continues to sell tickets until the March 29 chance drawing the final night of Chasco Fiesta.
The tickets offer a chance to win two NFL Buccaneers Club Level season tickets, valued at $4,100, and includes two pre-game and eight home games. Package also includes reserved stadium parking.
Tickets cost $75 each and only 150 will be sold for this drawing. To purchase tickets now, call the Foundation office at (727) 834-5479. For credit card orders call 1-866-999-2443.
For more information and a complete list of Chasco events, go online to www.chascofiesta.com or call (727) 842-7651.