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November 28, 2018

Nearly 500 Sign Up to March in Holiday Parade with Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Rousing response for an opportunity to walk alongside The Patterson Foundation float…

The Patterson Foundation’s holiday float in Saturday’s Sarasota Holiday Parade will have quite the entourage.

Nearly 500 volunteers have signed up to walk alongside the philanthropic organization’s float, which is promoting the theme that “Every Day Counts” — a message foundation leaders say is relevant for everyone, from children attending school to senior citizen community volunteers.

Beth Duda, executive director of the foundation’s Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, said she sent invitations to schools and families who had been involved with the campaign, which supports a variety of initiatives in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties aimed at improving the number of children reading on grade level by third grade. Duda had hoped to find 100 people willing to walk in the parade. As of Tuesday, she said 482 volunteers signed up to walk by the time they closed registration.

“I have been delighted at the enthusiasm that people have to be part of the holiday parade,” Duda said.

Duda said many of the parade walkers would be children who participated in the Sarasota School District’s Summer Learning Academies or the campaign’s Attendance Awareness Poster Contest, and many children would be joined by their parents and siblings.

“I think it’s a wonderful indication to us of how much these families feel like the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is their movement, that it belongs to them,” Duda said.

The parade runs along Main Street from U.S. 301 (Washington Boulevard) to J.D. Hamel Park at Main Street and Gulf Stream Avenue and will begin Saturday at 7 p.m.

This story comes from a partnership between the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Herald-Tribune, funded by The Patterson Foundation, to cover school readiness, attendance, summer learning, healthy readers and parent engagement. Read more stories at

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