Family Day Celebration draws a crowd to the Deuces

BY ANNA STEBBINS, Neighborhood News Bureau

ST. PETERSBURG – The renaissance of the 22nd Street corridor, also known as the Deuces, continues to build up steam. At its prime, big names such as Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington and James Brown could be seen working and playing along the corridor.

Although no giants in the entertainment industry could been seen hanging out on the Deuces last Sunday, what you could see was food, fun and local entertainment at the inaugural “Family Day on the Deuces.”

Over 50 people attended the event at Deuces BBQ, 911 22nd St.

The festivities kicked off at 3 p.m. with a Macaroni and cheese contest, whole hog roast, crawfish boil and live music from the Southside Blues Brothers and special guests: local rapper, Varis and Marques Clark, poet and author of  “Poetically Correct.”

“I saw (the event) online and haven’t had crawfish in awhile, so I figured I’d make the drive to get some,” said Joe Toscano, who came from Palm Harbor.

The focus of the event was to give people a reason to come down to the Deuces and connect with the community while having fun, according to Patrick Collins, owner of Deuces BBQ, who helped plan the day. Co-sponsors of the event included neighboring businesses, Chief’s Creole Café, Gallerie 909 and the Historic 22nd Street S Merchant Association.

Elihu Brayboy, owner of Chief’s Creole Café, provided the crawfish boil and was very pleased with the turnout.

“I’ve heard nothing but very good feedback.  It’s very important to keep this trend up,” said Brayboy. “It brings a sense of community and brings people from other areas of this city to this area.”

There were over 15 mac n’ cheese entries for the competition and, as a family-friendly event, the kids were the official judges.

The winner of the contest, Len Nhoung, went home with a cash prize of $50 and a $50 gift card to Deuces BBQ.  Carl McClellan, a chef at neighboring Chief’s Creole Café, came in second place and received a $50 gift card to Deuces BBQ.

The secret to the winning mac was the addition of mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar cheese and crisped bacon, Nhoung said.

With a $10 ticket, visitors could get their hands on a plateful of baked beans, mac n’ cheese and barbeque pork.  For $12, people could help themselves to a heap of boiled crawfish, accompanied with sausage, corn on the cob and a chunk of corn bread.

This event was perfect for people of any age, offering board games at each table, outdoor festivities, and dancing to old school blues.

The Family Day featured more than just food.  There were also several vendors that included African art, portrait painters, handmade jewelry and featured pieces from Gallerie 909.

The sponsors of the gathering are expecting to host more of these types of events throughout the year in an effort to bring together the community.

Anna Stebbins is a reporter in the Neighborhood News Bureau at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

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