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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019
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Park crawling with crawfish

LITHIA - As fast as Tammy Broussard and her daughter Michaela could dish up heaping plates full of Louisiana crawfish, corn and potatoes, fans of the tasty crustaceans scooped them up at Park Square. The Rotary Club of Bloomingdale-FishHawk held its first Crawfish Festival May 14 to raise money for local charities. The club reached its goal of $10,000, half of which will be split between five charities, with the other half going to various groups in need. The idea for the crawfish fest – something rarely seen in eastern Hillsborough County - was a hit. So much so, that the crew had to run out for 200 extra pounds of the miniature lobster-looking critters. In all, Rotary sold 1,200 pounds of crawfish. Hundreds poured in to the park on a brilliant, sunny day in FishHawk Ranch to munch on the tasty crawfish, most of which were trucked in at 6 a.m. that morning straight from the Bayou State.
The lines were long and the plates heaping. A group from The Bridge of the Bay Community Church in Riverview sat at a long table in the park enjoying their meal. "They are really excellent," said Chaz Rhone, as he sat with his brother and friends munching lunch. His church also had a booth to invite patrons to visit. The church meets at the YMCA's Camp Cristina on Sunday mornings. Rhone and his pals joined hundreds of others for a sit-down before the weather turned ugly that afternoon. "We did manage to get everyone their crawfish before the weather got bad. Except me," said Rotary President Elijah Heath, who was too busy coordinating and running to sit down for his heaping platter of crustaceans. "It's was even more successful than we planned," Heath said. In all, the club sold 700 dinners. Of the money raised, $5,000 will be split between A Kid's Place, the Women's Resource Center, Emergency Care Help Organization, the YMCA and the FishHawk sports complex. Rotary is encouraging other groups to come forward and meet with club members, to explain their needs, so it can decide where the remainder of the money will go, Heath said. The club meets Mondays for lunch at the Beef O'Brady's on Bell Shoals Road. Contact Heath at (813) 657-2078. He said the club is also looking into Rotary grants that could help them spread the money even farther. A canned good drive held in conjunction with the Crawfish Fest was also successful, bringing in a truck-load of food that will be distributed to A Kid's Place and Women's Resource Center. [email protected] (813) 627-4763
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