SUN CITY CENTER – One thing about the residents of Sun City Center, they sure know how to put on a parade.
And that’s just what they did Dec. 7, when a procession of 131 festively decorated golf carts from Sun City Center and Kings Point traveled a two-mile loop from the Community Association parking lot through neighborhoods surrounding the old North Golf Course. North Pebble Beach, El Rancho, La Jolla, Ojai and Cherry Hills were lined with more than 3,000 onlookers, many sitting in golf carts themselves.
“This is one of the most unique and best parades I’m in every year,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who brought along his 11-year-old son, Jake. “These folks have put some serious time and expense into their entries, and you can tell it’s a tremendous source of pride for the community.”
That was no doubt encouraged by Minto Communities’ $6,000 donation of prize money.
Awards were made in three categories: individuals; groups (HOAs, COAs, POAs and service organizations); and businesses. There was also a Best in Show and a $1,000 raffle winner.
Judges included John Moore of John Moore Flooring; John Custore of Winn Dixie; Scott Stinson of Valley Crest; Jo Boggs and Gail Linkogle of Boggs Jewelry; Dan Harman of The Home Depot; and chiropractor Doug Reitz.
“When I saw how much work had gone into this year’s entries, I was absolutely emphatic that the judges be fair, take their time assessing and give every cart due consideration,” said Dave Birkett, golf cart parade chairman. “The participants truly outdid themselves. I was amazed.”
Birkett said judges were asked to look at overall creativity, workmanship, individuality and relevance to this year’s theme: Sights & Sounds of the Season.
“This is fantastic,” said SCC resident Nancy Alguire. “I’ve lived here eight years and this is the first time I’ve come to watch. The people have gone all out with their decorations. It’s definitely hard to choose which ones are the best.”
Nevertheless, the judges made their decision.
Best in Show and $500 went to Ron Ringenbach of Kings Point for his animated toy soldier. He also took home $800 for first-place individual winner.
Ringenbach’s entry had four DC motors – one under the cart to move the soldier’s legs, another to move its head and one for each arm. Strobe lights flashed on and off as the sound of cannons went off in “The March of the Toy Soldiers,” which played as the castle-like cart passed by.
Ringenbach, 75, used to work on the Hubbell space telescope as a NASA aerospace engineer. He said he spent “250 hours and hundreds of dollars” in materials to build this year’s entry. He also sewed the soldier’s jacket and gave it retractable legs that lifted over speed bumps.
“Right now I’m pretty tired,” he said in an interview after the parade. “But if I do something next year, it’ll be even more spectacular.”
Another big winner was Patty Brandt, who received $1,000 when her name was drawn in the raffle.
“I was standing with a girl who always wins everything, so I was shocked when my number was called,” she said. “I wish I could share it with Everyone. I promise to spend it all locally.”
Charley Belcher of WTVT Fox 13 was grand marshal of the parade. Dignitaries included Hagen, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and Florida House Rep. Jake Raburn, Dist. 57.
2013 SCC Golf Cart Parade winners
1st – Ron Ringenbach, $800
2nd – John and Laura O’Connor, $300
3rd – Stuart McGinnis, $200
4th – Joe and Rita Mealey, $200
5th – Joannie Frantz, $200
6th – Don Babair, $200
Portsmouth COA, $800
Gloucester COA, $300
Wedgewood II HOA, $200
1st – Bay Services Corp., $800
2nd – Palm Gardens, $300
3rd – Gulf Coast Insurance Group, $200
Best in Show:
Ron Ringenbach, $500
Patty Brandt, $1,000