Pahokeeans celebrate their city’s legacy

PAHOKEE — The annual “I Love Pahokee Day” festivities took place at the city’s waterfront over St. Patrick’s Day weekend this year, drawing hundreds to the relaxing parklike setting on Lake Okeechobee’s shore to enjoy music, food, games and camaraderie.

An election had just taken place on Tuesday, March 12, and the gathering Saturday had some extra energy in the air. Longtime community champion and Pahokee Chamber of Commerce Director Regina Bohlen became the city’s newest commissioner. She’ll be sworn in at next week’s regular Pahokee City Commission meeting.

It was a great day, Mrs. Bohlen said, and the crowds didn’t really scatter until very dark clouds gathered toward midafternoon and then a downpour occurred. Asked whether they were all having fun, she said, “Oh, yeah! I bet we had 500 or so people, at least, at the height of it.

“The day was, like, overcast but nice, and it didn’t rain until later in the day.”

Mrs. Bohlen said while she and a group of helpers were dismantling the chamber’s tent that outgoing Commissioner Diane Walker and the re-elected Commissioner Clara “Tasha” Murvin and Mayor Keith W. Babb Jr. had come out to greet the many folks who attended despite the threatening skies. City Manager Chandler Williamson also was seen; however, the other two commissioners, Felisia Hill and Benny L. Everett III, had to attend a funeral and weren’t present.

Said city resident Sharon Colvin, who’s lived in Pahokee for 20 years: “It was really good, and it was wonderful being down here at the marina. And I can hardly wait until the people who are getting the marina can take it over. Long time coming.”

She said she and her husband never miss a city event or city commission meeting “unless we’re sick or out of town.”

Debra Edwards, from Bridges of Pahokee, was thankful for the crowds and kids enjoying themselves. “It was a great day. The weather held up really well. There were a lot of people who came out. I had a fun time, really enjoyed the day. But I’m looking forward to next year, when it will be bigger and better. By the lake, it’s so nice.”

DJ Church Boy, who staged the city commissioner candidates’ debate the week before the election, was the festival’s DJ. Also known as Albert L. Polk IV, he runs a local foundation and actively posts local news on a newsletter-type page on Facebook. “Thanks, Pahokee Chamber, for allowing me and Queen Alexis (his wife) to DJ and host your amazing event. Pahokee Marina is a jewel,” he posted late Saturday.

Mayor Babb was especially happy and proud that the Pahokee Rotary Club’s Annual Kids Fishing Tournament was staged in conjunction with the city’s event at the marina, calling it “a huge success.”

The Children Services Council of Palm Beach County was the signature sponsor of the event. Co-sponsoring were International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 728; Valor Construction Management; Bridges of Pahokee and the Palm Health Foundation. City of Pahokee workers and staff, Pahokee Chamber of Commerce-organized volunteers, Bridges of Pahokee and the I Love Pahokee Day Committee drew special thanks; also, Lynda Aygapong for the fliers.

Commissioner-elect Bohlen summed up the day’s significance: “I want people to know that we’re coming up on the 100-year anniversary for Pahokee in 2022, so that’s why we want to build this festival up. ‘I Love Pahokee Day’ kind of has the feel of the Grassy Waters Festival because it’s up on the water now, so we want everybody to know that between 2021 and 2022 … well, really in March 2022 is the big, big event for our anniversary … but we’ll be building up to that all year long.”

The Grassy Waters Festival was an annual event in the area many years ago but was displaced from the waterfront by hurricanes and never revived.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com.

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