NEW PORT RICHEY — Beads, beads and more beads; spectators can find out how many strings of beads they can collect while watching the Chasco Fiesta street parade on Saturday afternoon.
The parade will anchor the first weekend of events as the nine-day festival kicks into high gear Friday through March 29.
People on floats will toss beads to the crowd 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, said Greg Armstrong, one of its organizers, who is with Holiday Rotary. Because Pasco schools are 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 kicks off Friday night with the Native American Festival from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., including carnival rides and more centered at Sims Park. Visitors can buy food or goods at booths operated by about 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.
The West Pasco Sertoma Beef BBQ in Sims Park will provide meals with Secret Sertoma Sauce Friday through Sunday.
The West Pasco Historical Society will set up a memorabilia show at the museum at 6431 Grand Blvd.,across from Sims Park.
Saturday will feature 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. will precede the street parade, which will begin at 1 p.m.
The Sunday slate includes the Gulf Side Corvette Club Car, Truck and Bike Show, with registration from 8 a.m. to noon.
Next week will include a bowling tournament on Tuesday and golf tournament on March 28. The annual boat parade on March 29 will anchor a 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,” said Cami Austin, chairwoman of this year’s Chasco Fiesta.
For instance, the Sertoma Speech & Hearing Foundation continues to sell tickets until the March 29 chance drawing on the fiesta’s final night. The tickets offer an opportunity to win two NFL Buccaneers Club Level season tickets, valued at $4,100. The package includes reserved stadium parking.
Tickets cost $75 each, and 150 will be sold for the drawing. To buy tickets, 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 to www.chascofiesta.com or call (727) 842-7651.