Feeding the community at the 2nd Annual Fall Festival


ST. PETERSBURG — The Second Annual Fall Festival, held on Nov. 22 at a city-owned lot at 22nd Street and 7th Avenue, featured free food, entertainment and a whole bunch of turkeys. One thousand, give or take a bird, were given away free to families who attended the festival.

Jeff Copeland, one of the event coordinators, estimated about 2,500 festival goers for this year’s turnout, an increase from approximately 1,500 attendees last year.  Even Mayor Rick Kriseman, along with his family, was on hand to personally distribute the turkeys, which will undoubtedly provide many families with a juicy centerpiece for their Thanksgiving meals.

The overcast weather didn’t deter people from enjoying all the fun activities at the event, which ran from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to the turkey giveaway, there were pony rides, train rides, a rock-climbing wall, bounce houses, a mechanical bull, a petting zoo and even bungee jumping.

Musical acts put the crowd in a dancing mood, and featured recording artist Rome as the headliner. Initially with the RCA label and now with Suthun Music Entertainment, Rome scored a hit with his single “I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face),” which climbed to number two on the R & B charts.

Free food was also available, including hot dogs, potato chips and refreshing drinks. The entire bill was footed—musicians, turkeys and all—by St. Pete attorney James Flynn, Your Southside Lawyer.

“It’s his way of giving back to the community,” Copeland said of Flynn. In conjunction with Copeland, who is the executive director of the Pinellas County Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Flynn also kicked off his free rides for seniors program, which offers transportation to the elderly of St. Pete five days a week.

“This fall festival was a milestone to show us how far we came from last year,” Copeland said. “I cannot give James Flynn enough credit with what he has accomplished with the festival. He is from Savannah, Ga., and he has taken on this city as his home. He has definitely been an icon in our city and shown that you don’t have to be an elected official to make things happen in our community.”

Though only in its second year, the festival is steadily growing and has even garnered attention from such stars as comedian Steve Harvey, who donated 100 turkeys himself, Copeland said. With his sights already set on next year’s festival, Copeland promises it will be even better.

“I put a committee together to start planning for a turkey giveaway for next year,” he said, “because next year we’re not going to give away 1,000 turkeys, we’re going to give away at least 1,500 turkeys!”

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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