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Safety Harbor Library: One Book, One Community / Press Release

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Picture of the book, Between the World and Me, on a library shelf. (Screenshot from EMU webiste/Kathryn Malaxos)

The idea is that the city that opens the same book closes it in greater harmony.”  – Mary McGrory, The Washington Post, 2002. 

The Safety Harbor Public Library announces a One Book, One Community read featuring the New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

The book covers the most pressing questions about American history and ideals and the intimate concerns of an African American father for his son. Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s painful racial history and our current civil rights crisis. Written in the form of a letter to his adolescent son, he shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in American culture through a series of revelatory experiences. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, re-imagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage,Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward. 

Copies of the book are available at the library beginning July 30 and can be placed on hold if checked out to others. Discussion questions, author videos, and information on upcoming online book discussions can be found on the One Book, One Community webpage: 

The Library is located at 101 2nd Street N., Safety Harbor, FL 34695. Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Questions regarding this program can be directed to Lisa,  

Safety Harbor 4th of July Car Parade: Short, Sweet, Photos

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It lasted less than a half hour but it showed spirit. Instead of the annual parade down Main Street that lasted hours, a car parade went through town Saturday morning.

Mayor Joe Ayoub and Safety Harbor Commissioners Carlos Diaz and Nancy Besore were in the parade.

They arrived late but the Stars Wars Legion came to town for the parade.

Thanks to American Legion Post 238 for setting up the Car Parade.

The marching Santas from Palm Harbor were riding.

What’s a Safety Harbor parade without motorcycles?

Next year maybe we can get back to the full-blown 4th of July parade down Main Street,

Scaled Back 4th of July Parade Set for Saturday

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A 40 vehicle 4th of July Car Parade will pass through Safety Harbor. Watch from your yard,
Instead of a parade down Main Street, a 4th of July Car Parade will roll through some neighborhoods on Saturday. Residents can watch from their yards. Photo by Walt Belcher.

The annual Safety Harbor 4th of July Parade has been changed due to the COVID 19 virus threat and is now a 40-vehicle motorcade that will wind its way through some city neighborhoods.

This would have been the 12th year for what had become a long, colorful and patriotic march down Main Street.

Put on by Safety Harbor’s American Legion Post 238, past parades featured bands, floats, vintage cars, military vehicles, cars filled with dignitaries, motorcycles, bikes, and hundreds of spectators.

Because of social distancing and to avoid crowds, the city’s annual fireworks show has been canceled and Main Street is off limits for any parade.

“We had to scale it back this year but we wanted to do something,” said Ruth Ann Burgess, parade chairman with the Auxiliary Unit of American Legion Post 238.

The motorcade will not be on Main Street this year and citizens are asked to watch it from their yards.

It starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Safety Harbor Elementary School and will end at the Legion Post’s headquarters on Legion Lane (see map for route). The Legion will be open to the public for a limited menu of take-away food.

If you don’t live on the route, there are a few places to see it, provided you keep the proper social distance.

Those who live along the route are asked to clear any cars from the streets and citizens are encouraged to decorate their yards with flags and 4th of July decor and watch from their yards.

“All of our vehicles will be decorated with flags,” said Burgess, noting that they won’t be giving out little flags to the children this year. “No one will be walking,” she said.

For example, the marching Palm Harbor Santas will be waving from a car this year.

The motorcade also will include a few members of the 501 Legion of Star Wars, the therapy dog group Paws for Friendship, Safety Harbor Recreation with mascot Fiona, state and local American Legion officers, and the Tampa Bay Posse (a Corvette Club with just two cars instead of the 30 that were in last year’s parade).

Also in the parade this year will be motorcycles from the American Legion Riders, two Ford Model T cars, antique military vehicles, the Tampa Bay Jeep Club, the Sons of the American Legion officers, Socks for Soldiers, Honor Flight, the North Pinellas Democrats and North Pinellas Republicans and a car carrying Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

Safety Harbor City Commissioners Carlos Diaz and Nancy Besore are scheduled to ride, and the Safety Harbor Fire Department and Pinellas Sheriff’s Department will be represented.

Folly Farm Nature Preserve: An Oasis in Safety Harbor

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Folly Farm entrance (Photo/Kate Kohler)

Folly Farm Nature Preserve is Safety Harbor’s newest city park, having opened to the public in 2019. Its ten-acre setting includes a butterfly garden, a labyrinth path, a playground and dozens of fruit trees that are available for the public to pick when ripe. A circular path winds around the grounds and passes through distinct ecosystems. In addition to the work of city staff, residents have contributed their time and talents to the park. 

Common Ground, a community garden association, rents space from the city for their members to grow food. Julie Brannon, a contributor to this publication and head of the not-for-profit garden group, gave me a tour of the garden and the larger property and plants. She shared its history and connected me with its benefactor, George Weiss.

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Area Unemployment Still High Even In “Reopening”

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Picture of sign that says "For Hire."
(Photo/Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

While Florida added 182,900 jobs in May, the state’s unemployment rate was up to 14.5 percent, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

The slight uptick in jobs statewide doesn’t offset the 1.1 million jobs lost in Florida during April when many businesses were closed to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

That 14.5 percent rate translates into 1.4 million unemployed.

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Harbor Dish: 1,000 Meals And A Happy 91st Birthday

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Volunteer Coordinator Cameron (left), Ilan, Dee and Sandie of the Harbor Dish prepare meals in the Presbyerian Church kitchen.

When Lori turned 91 on Friday, her friends from the Harbor Dish stopped by with cards, flowers and food.

“I don’t know what I would have done without them,” said Lori. “They have been absolutely wonderful to me.”

Lori, who has lived in the area 44 years, injured her back and fractured her skull in December when she tripped and fell.

She is recovering but is homebound, so Dish volunteers have been bringing her meals. Lori said that she can afford to pay but she “just can’t go out right now.”

“My refrigerator is full of goodies, and, most of the time, when they bring me food, they take time to sit and chat. And I like to talk,” said Lori, a widow and former secretary at Jim Walter Homes where her late husband was an international sales manager.

Providing meals, support and friendship is what the Harbor Dish is all about, said Dish founder Christina Sauger.

Lori turned 91 and celebrated with friends from the Harbor Dish

With more than 300 active volunteers, the Dish has been serving the Safety Harbor area since 2013.

Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the non-profit group has seen need for food more than double since Florida’s safe-at-home restrictions began in March.

“We are helping a lot of working families that aren’t working right now and don’t qualify for other programs,” said Sauger, who along with other non-paid volunteers work out of the kitchen at the First Presbyterian Church at 255 5th Avenue South.

“And we’re delivering meals to a lot of elderly people who aren’t supposed to leave their homes now,” she said.

“Over the course of the pandemic we’ve given away over a thousand boxes of food,” said Cameron Zamanian, Dish Volunteer Coordinator.

Zamanian said that the Dish has a good relationship with the Whole Foods Market, collecting food every Sunday that is still good but nearing expiration.

“It’s a lot of food, and we bring it to the church and pack it in boxes for families that have signed up for our services,” he said. “We give each family a box with food and produce that could be five to 10 meals.”

Zamanian, who joined the Dish volunteers at the outset of the pandemic shutdown, said this program helps people while reducing food waste. The Dish is also partnered with Panera Bread, Nature’s Food Patch, Bonefish Grill and other food vendors and restaurants to receive donated food and prepared meals.

Sauger said that the Dish also cooks for children at the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in Safety Harbor on Tuesdays. “We haven’t been able to prepare meals at the Ranch because of the COVID lockdown, but we still cook the meals and deliver them,” she said.

The Dish also prepares and delivers meals to people suffering from debilitating health conditions, including elderly citizens and cancer patients.

Sauger said that some people have a misconception about the Dish.

“We are not a soup kitchen,” she said. “We give a hand up and not a handout. It’s about more than just food. It’s about providing friendly support and a sense of community.”

“We don’t qualify people,” she said. “We get referrals. We don’t require a lot of personal information, and everybody is treated with respect. You won’t often see pictures of the people we serve on social media. Everything is done privately.”

The Harbor Dish is modeled after the One World Everybody Eats community cafes, including Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchens in New Jersey. There are about 60 cafes nationwide where patrons pay what they can or pay it forward for someone in need.

“But no one is paying right now because of the virus situation,” Sauger said.
And beyond the COVID-19 crisis, there is a need. Nearly half of the children in the three elementary schools serving Safety Harbor qualified for free or reduced-price lunch during the 2019-2020 school year.

Zamanian said there is always a need by the Dish for committed volunteers as well as for donations. The Dish has one delivery vehicle, an SUV, but could use another, said Sauger.

“Our next step is to open a café where people can come in and see what we do,” Zamanian said.

“The space we are using at the church is donated and it is shared,” Sauger added. “We need a commercial kitchen.”

Plans to open a Harbor Dish café on 4th Avenue South were scrapped several years ago when bringing the building up to city code proved too costly.

The Dish is actively seeking a space for a small cafe, where everyone can dine together in dignity, regardless of means.

Sauger said that in general in these cafes, about 80 percent of customers pay the suggested amount or pay it forward for the other 20 percent, who pay whatever they can. It has been a successful model that allows everyone respect and fosters a strong sense of community — something that everyone is looking forward to getting back to after the pandemic.

To get in touch with the Harbor Dish, call (727) 796-8286 or e-mail:

Harbor dish volunteers provide boxes of food for families who have been hit hard by the COVID 19 virus threat.

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