Parade staging area damaged

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG A staging area for Monday’s Pioneer Days parade was damaged by a truck or other vehicle Monday night.

ENGLEWOOD — Recent heavy rains and damage allegedly caused by a vehicle in a church parking lot could impact Monday’s Pioneer Days parade.

A vehicle that may have gotten stuck in a St. Raphael’s Catholic Church parking lot — the unpaved lot was already covered in several inches of standing water — left treadmarks and ruts in the property that was supposed to have been a staging area for Monday’s parade.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, a neighbor spotted a White Dodge Ram pickup that may have caused the damage around 7 p.m. Sunday at the church lot at the intersection of Old Englewood Avenue, St. Raphaels Drive and Kilbourne Avenue. The neighbor failed to get a tag number but saw the truck appear to be stuck in the lot. The truck drove off a short time later, leaving muddy treadmarks in the sandy lot.

The area is part of the Pioneer Days parade route and could lead to a major restaging of the parade participants, said Jean Airey, co-chair of Pioneer Days organizing committee, in an email Monday morning.

By the afternoon her outlook was more optimistic, but she said whoever caused the damage should come forward.

“Whoever did this needs to be castigated for it,” Airey said. “We’ll be fine working with it. We deeply regret that anyone would treat Englewood land like that.”

Attempts to reach Rev. Mark Schaffner of St. Raphael Church were unsuccessful.

“We feel for St. Raphael’s Catholic Church since they do so much for the community,” Airey said.

The church will try to put some barricades around the area for safety, according to the SCSO report. The incident is not considered a crime, according to the SCSO.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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