Grand Opening Showcases New Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center
The event Friday night drew a large crowd to the remodeled facility, including city commissioners, the Treasures of the Harbor and even Darth Vader.
It was a festive night in the Harbor on Friday, with the tree lighting ceremony at the Gazebo followed by the grand opening of the Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center afterward.
Many residents made the short trip from John Wilson Park to the Bayshore Boulevard facility, where they got the first look at the revamped former Museum of Regional History.
By all accounts the ceremony was a success.
"I'm thrilled with the turnout," facility director Shannon Schafer said. "There's a lot of people asking questions, and some who said they are interested in volunteering and teaching with us."
In addition to showcasing the new facility, which closed in March to undergo a complete remodeling and re-purposing, the event was used as a platform to announce the 2012 Treasures of the Harbor winners.
The annual awards, handed out by the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation, honor community leaders in three groups: Pearl (30 years of age and younger), Ruby (31 to 60 years), and Diamond (61 years and older).
This year's recipients were Kevin Neumann (Pearl); Dottie Russell (Ruby) and Bobbie Wheeler (Diamond).
"There's nothing bigger than being a treasure in Safety Harbor," an emotional Wheeler told the crowd, "because it is a treasure in itself."
Before and after the announcements, everyone mingled inside and outside of the museum, where they could sign up for classes, look at the exhibits and hob nob with the mayor, city commissioners and even a few Star Wars characters.
"I was glad to see the community turn out the way it did tonight," Schafer said. "It was amazing."
"Hopefully they'll continue to come out and sign up for classes and support us."