The cold winter days have warmed into the beautiful spring weather that we all love here in Florida, and it's time for New Port Richey residents to start planning for the 2011 Chasco Fiesta season.
Since its inception in 1922, the original three-day carnival has grown into a fun filled 11-day event for all to enjoy, however the purposes of community fundraising have remained the same.
Looking back at the early history of the Chasco Fiesta, we see the true grit and ingenuity of our community’s founders in creating a well-planned fundraising event that was to last for generations to come.
According to historic newspapers, the first Chasco Fiesta evolved from an idea that was proposed at a January 10, 1922, town hall meeting where residents unanimously voted that New Port Richey would have a carnival to raise funds for permanent housing for the town’s Avery Library-- exactly what that carnival would involve was to be determined.
Within a week, Postmaster Gerben M. DeVries, created the legend that spawned the Chasco Fiesta.
This legend, recounted in local newspapers, tells of an ill-fated expedition of Spanish explorers in 1586. The expedition was captured by a group of Calusa Indians living along the Pithlachascotee River, the legend says. All were sacrificed, except for a young girl, her step-brother, and a priest. The three were adopted into the tribe.
The young girl, Dona Isabella, was eventually named Queen Chasco by the tribe chief, and her brother, Don Phillip, was named Prince Pithla, or so the legend goes. The Prince acted as mayor over the Queen’s city and guarded her royal seal, which consisted of the trident palm (three pronged) representing Faith, Grit, and Brotherly Love. The goal of the Queen City was 10,000 subjects bearing the seal of the trident palm; the allegorical picture of what New Port Richey’s population was to become.
The New Port Richey Press reported the first Chasco Fiesta opened on March 2, 1922. The first woman to be crowned Queen Chasco was Marjorie Sims, and the first man to be crowned Prince Pithla was Barnum Davis. The crowning, meant as the symbolic reenactment of days past, was the beginning of the three day event.
The festivities began with a grand parade of the Queen’s entourage, which arrived by water to an Indian Village built in Enchantment Park, now Sims Park. The evening closed with a musical extravaganza-- A Moonlight Cabaret-- held at the little Palms Theatre on Main Street.
On day two, the events kicked off with the big automobile parade, which consisted of several decorated advertising autos, trucks and buses. Civic and political groups, veterans, performers, school children and individuals dressed in Indian costume participated. Following the parade was an exciting auto race, fancy riding, sports, and much more.
On the third and final day, the festival held a Water Carnival in connection with the annual Commodore’s Cup motor boat race. Every boat on the river participated in a decorated boat parade starting near Massachusetts Avenue and proceeding up the river past the judges’ stand at Enchantment Park.
As the first Chasco Fiesta events closed, it was reported a whopping $364.31 was raised for the Avery Library, which we still enjoy today as the New Port Richey Public Library.
In keeping with those traditions established by the pioneers of our city, let’s enjoy another successful Chasco Fiesta season of community fundraising and all the food, fun, parades, and music that comes with it.