CHASCO FIESTA PARADE - Mark Antokas

03/22/04

INTRO:In it’s eighty first year, the Chasco Festival in New Port Richey raises money for children's charities in Pasco County. But the event is not without it’s critics, who say that the parade and festival portrays native Americans in a racist, stereotypical and offensive light. WMNF’s Mark Antokas was there.

VOICE: The Chasco Festival exists to raise money for local non-profit groups. The street parade alone generates more than one hundred and fifty thousand people who line the streets along the parade route with lawn chairs and barbeque grills hoping to catch a few stings of beads. Manhattan Island was bought with a handful of beads. “The Chasco Fiesta�, says festival chair Cami Austin, “ Is a true coming together of our community� But not all are happy with the event. WMNF spoke with Sheridan Murphy, the executive director of Florida’s A.I.M, The American Indian Movement: Roll Tape.

Murphy and about twenty other protesters associated with the movement lined the parade route displaying placards. WMNF spoke with Daniel Callaghan, of S.C.A.R.S, the Society of Citizens Against Racism, a splinter group of the American Indian Movement. He had chained his hand and forearm to an eyebolt placed in the road, just before the Chasco Crewe’s float which was laden with white people dressed as indians. What followed was loud. Roll Tape:

What Callaghan had on his hand was a section of PVC pipe to his elbow which was in turn locked to the eyebolt. At this point the New Port Richey Police were giving out lawfull orders, Callaghan refused. Roll Tape:

And then WMNF was given a Lawfull order, ending the interview with Callaghan. Roll Tape:

WMNF spoke to a spectator, who witnessed the actions of Callaghan. Roll Tape.

The Chasco Festival is based on a tale which contends that a Spanish boy and girl who were kidnapped by the Calusa Indian tribe became Queen Chasco of the Calusa’s and her consort, King Pithla. A member of the Chasco Krewe had this to say. Roll Tape:

At the head of the Chasco Krewe’s float was a Native American who was invited to participate. Roll Tape:

Corbin Conrow of the South Dakota Ogala Lakota Nation, formally the Sioux Nation, a Native American Dancer, was dismissive about the demonstration and had this to say about the plight of Native American’s in General. Roll Tape:

Daniel Callaghan of New Port Richey, the head of the Society Against Racism was arrested Saturday on charges of disturbing a lawfull assembly, obstructing a public road and was also charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. He was released on six thousand dollars bail. And the parade went on. The festival continues in New Port Richey until March 28th. This is Mark Antokas, for WMNF radio news.

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