Saint Cloud residents shop for community organizations

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James Tutten

Collegiate coloring on actual alligator skulls show support for the University of Florida and football fans of “Gator Nation.”

“Spring Fling” is an annual tradition in Saint Cloud, Fla. that showcases all the sights and sound of the city while raising money to help support a multitude of community projects. The event was held this past Saturday.

“It’s a chance for us to have a festival for the city and also a fundraiser for our scholarship programs,” said president of the Saint Cloud Rotary Club, Michael Long. The Rotary Club is an organization with branches all over the world that provide humanitarian service and encourage high ethical standards in all vocations.

Funds to support the group’s scholarships are primarily raised by vendors, craftsmen, organizations and others that purchased more than 50 booth locations. These booths are set up along Lakeshore Drive and run through the city on the southern shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga. The price range for a booth location varies from $300 for commerical, $100 for home business and $50 for a non-profit.

Artisans presented their handmade creations at the mainstreet bizarre. One notable craftsman named Tim Neidert took old skulls from alligators and other critters and applied a multitude of different print designs to decorate them. “I’ve gotten some positive feedback from the people here; it’s kinda freaky and they like it,” said Neidert.

A special return of last year’s ancient artifact exhibit was featured in the upstairs portion of the “Crabby Bills” restaurant, also on Saint Cloud’s Lakeshore Drive. Several rows of displayed native artifacts emphasized the deep history of the city long before its modern state.

“We just wanted to put everything together, show the public, and help raise money for scholarships,” said Tyde Jones, a member of the “Mid-Florida Archaeological Society,” which has been studying and exhibiting salvaged artifacts in central Florida since 1983.

The powerboats, one of the largest draws for this event with races on Sunday, were parked down on Lakeshore Drive for a short time Saturday. Many posed for pictures and got to take a close-hand look at the powerful and dangerous machines.

Along with this was the return of a fan-favorite wakeboard competition after a few years of lapse; Saturday also featured a fishing tournament worth $2,500 for top place finishers. Events like this kept the relatively small boat dock busier than ever, with a special crane brought in to assist with loading larger crafts into and out of the water.

“I’ve been out to this event before, and it’s always a great time for me and my family,” said resident Jeffrey Dawson. He looked on as his two young boys ran around the large outdoor playground with several other local children.

The Rotary club hopes to raise over $12,000, which is similar to last year’s total.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Saint Cloud and their scholarship opportunities visit their website at http://www.rotaryclubofstcloud.org