RIVERVIEW, Fla. — For many people, the cancellation of the Gasparilla parades doesn’t just mean missing a party — it means missing out.
This has made a very difficult challenge for one Krewe whose mission is inclusion.
For Gasparilla krewes, the news of cancellation was absolutely heartbreaking, but especially for the Krewe of Sir Francis Drake and the special needs community. It’s that one day a year where kids really get to have that rock star moment.
“Of course we understand the decisions, safety always has to come first. With that being said, what do we have to look forward to, to keep going,” said President and Founder of the Krewe of Sir Francis Drake Renee Wood.
Cancellations not only hurt finances, but also morale.
Their float and mission are unique and they’re constantly giving back to the community.
The Krewe has the first ADA complaint special needs parade float in U.S. history.
“It’s the small things that we get to do with our children that these kids will never get to do. Drive their first car, go to a prom, walk down the aisle with their first date, get married,” said Krewe Captain and Founder Roland Wood.
“When we take a child and put them on the wheelchair lift and we put their crown on and put their sash on, that’s their moment to shine. That’s their special day,” said Renee Wood.
While this year’s special day might look different, the Krewe isn’t giving up.
“We go out there, we start hitting the streets, we do what we do. That’s what we’re known for. We don’t just talk the talk, we do it. We’ll go out and start helping with the special needs proms and interact with the kids the way they want to be interacted with,” said Roland.
The Krewe of Sir Francis Drake has been around for four years.
Along with volunteering to help the special needs community, you can also find them giving back to veterans with disabilities in the region.