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March 1, 2017
One of the things I love about Tampa is it that it’s nearly impossible to get the post-holiday winter blues. We roll from New Year’s Day to Gasparilla festivities through February that turns into March madness. March is filled with events, including the Gasparilla Music Festival, Gasparilla Film Festival and Strawberry Festival that expose children (and grown-ups) to a wide range of performing arts virtually for free. This month’s edition of Tampa Bay Parenting magazine has everything you need to know to ensure your family doesn’t miss a beat during our community’s March madness!
My husband Bennett and I both grew up in Tampa so we have been attending the Strawberry Festival in Plant City for decades. While my dream of becoming the Strawberry Queen (and sitting in the front row for the country music concerts) will never come true, Bennett and I attend one of the concerts with our kids, Claire (10) and Hill (7), every year. The entertainment line-up is always stacked with top performers that anyone can watch for free. What is not free, but equally important, is the strawberry shortcake. There is no parallel to in-season Plant City strawberries covered in whipped cream on top of a biscuit. Pure heaven.
With so much going on in Tampa in March, it’s hard to justify leaving town for spring break. Our kids get two long weeks off so our family usually plans a big trip to a place we’ll all love and from which the kids may actually learn something from. In 2016 we flew to San Diego, rented a minivan and drove up the coast to San Francisco. We stopped along the way doing things like the San Diego Zoo cheetah experience, whale-watching in Dana Shores, seal pup spotting in La Jolla, ice cream at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, beekeeping at Carmel Valley Ranch, cruising to Alcatraz, and tree hugging ancient redwoods at Muir Woods.
My kids (and husband) are still talking about that trip, which is why it was a shock to everyone that we would be staying close to home this spring break, but for a very good reason. Their spring break happens to overlap with the Jersey Mike’s Subs Month of Giving, and most importantly, the Day of Giving on March 29, when 100 percent of total sales at 30-plus locations in West Central Florida will be donated to High Risk Hope (HRH).
HRH is the nonprofit our family founded after our three-month hospital stay surrounding Hill’s premature birth. Since 2011, HRH has helped over 6,000 families who have been placed on long-term hospital bed rest during their pregnancy or delivered a premature baby in our community. The Month of Giving could raise enough donations to enable HRH to reach 2,500 more families in crisis. Our family’s road trip this spring break will involve crisscrossing West Central Florida. We will eat at every Jersey Mike’s Subs location we can to thank our HRH supporters and teach our kids that you don’t have to travel across the country to have an impactful spring break.
Founder and Executive Director of High Risk Hope