Bright Lights Bring Holiday Spirit to Tallahassee

Downtown Monroe St. was filled with students and residents witnessing a unique celebration of lights, music and the arts. Tallahassee’s Winter Festival held its 25th anniversary Saturday.

Tallahassee resident Nancy Gunn is no newcomer to the annual parade, and said she looks forward to the end of the year because of the parade.

 “I enjoy getting into the holiday spirit and seeing all of the creative floats,” said Gunn. “There’s a friendly atmosphere to go along with this near-perfect temperature.”

Along with various companies that participated, ROWE Roofing was throwing beads to anxious crowd members from their float.

The event catered to all ages while the lights mesmerized younger children. Tallahassee resident Jennifer Barron brought her 2-year-old granddaughter Zaria Williams to the event.

 “Zaria had been excited for the past week asking about the lights,” said Barron. “She’s has her yellow sucker and she’s watching the parade. She’s enjoying herself.”

Val Barton, a Gadsden county resident, attended with her 10-month-old son.

 “My favorite part of the parade is the marching bands, particularly Griffin Middle School,” said Barton.

A participant in the parade was Wendell Marshall, 12, who played the baritone for one of the crowd’s favorite school bands, Griffin Middle School. The seventh grader was happy to be at the event and enjoyed playing his instrument for the crowd.

“I am dedicated to my music,” said Marshall.

Spreading wide across the street, the Divine Praise Dance ministry of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist church had synchronized a dance to a gospel melody. Their dance troupe ranged from ages 4 – 25.

A first-time visitor and Leon County resident Nicolle Leider was informed of the Winter Festival by a co-worker.

“The parade participants are nice and they talk to the crowd,” said Leider. “They really encouraged crowd participation.”

An unexpected attendee, Whitney Sigell, is already making plans to attend next year’s event with more friends and family.

 “I was with friends downtown when we heard drums and decided to check out the excitement,” said Sigell. “This is definitely in the plans for next year.”

Students exposed through spoken words

Shanica Johnson

Fingers snapped, hands clapped and feet stomped to the melodies of Florida A&M students this weekend.

While the performances are usually held in Charles Winterwood Theatre, Change It Up III was held in a spacious classroom, which was transformed into a small studio with dim lights, a live band and just enough space to create the feeling of togetherness for members of the audience.

Jamaal Green, a computer information systems student from Atlanta, performed the poem “Erudition,” which was about the elevation of minds.

“I have a passion for poetry, so I felt the need to finally showcase my talent,” said Green

“Change It up III…Trippin’ Out” was a spoken word entertainment performance sponsored by FAMU’s Essential Theatre and faculty member Kim Harding. Students from all over campus were given the opportunity to showcase their spoken word ability about topics such as black power, oppression, HIV, natural hair, domestic abuse and abortion.

Students also danced, sang and even rapped to portray positive messages for the audience. Audience members were encouraged to participate.

Fans had the opportunity to see the show at least three times on Friday night at 10 p.m., and twice on Saturday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The university’s talent recruiters “FAMU Connection” were the night’s primary singers and dancers between different scenes of spoken word acts.

Students were urged to come at least one hour prior to show time to purchase tickets because of the small space available. Even that did not deter them from filling up every seat in the room, nor did the $5 student ticket price. People from all schools were in attendance.

“I enjoy spoken word and poetry so I came to support my classmates,” said Nikki Washington, a fourth-year criminal justice student.

Michael Harris-Young, dedicated a poem to former drum major Robert Champion titled “Tribute to a Champion.” The poet ended with the words “Even in death, nothing can divide the band.”