Sarasota, Florida -- A July 4 tradition in Sarasota may be back on as planned after it was canceled due to problems with the City and event organizers coming to an agreement.
Each year for 18 years, a City of Sarasota neighborhood park has been the backdrop for a July 4 Jubilee barbecue thrown by Pastor Neil McArthur and his wife Shirley.The event raises money each year for the homeless and families in need in the Newtown and Downtownareas.
"That's the true meaning of July 4," says Pastor Neil McArthur, one of the event's organizers. "It's not just fireworks and flags it's us being able to touch humanity being able to help our brothers to help our sisters."
The McArthurs say about500 people attend the event sponsored by the Eternal Bread of Life Outreach Ministry and throughcommunity donations.
Until Oct. 1, 2011,Sarasota County maintained and cared for 14 city parks, but now the City runs them and charges a fee for group events. Unlike whatthe county did in past years, McArthur says the City will not waive the $650 permitting fee.The Pastor approached the city commission two weeks ago for a waiver but says commissioners did not respond.
"The concern is if we waive it for one person we have another group have to waive it for all," says Dough Jeffcoat, public works director for the city.
Pastor McArthur does secure the $650 fee through a donor but on Monday morning he says he was told by a city employee that it was too late and theydidn't have time to process the paperwork.
10News was also told "it's too late" to get the permits by a city community events planner but after taking the issue higher to the Deputy Administrator's Office there is progress.
Jeffcoat says the McArthurs willsimply have to show proof of payment, "It's going to happen if they get the funding in. We do everything to make sure paperwork is in place."
If permitting does come through in time, the July 4 Jubilee will be held at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park is located at 2523 Cocoanut Avenue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If not, it will be held at Trinity Christian Fellowship Center at800 Cocoanut Avenue in Sarasota during the same time.