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Tea parties showcase discontent at federal spending

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Across the country on tax day Wednesday, perhaps a thousand or more “Tea Parties” are in the works to protest U.S. government spending and taxation.

Manatee and Sarasota counties are among the venues for these events, which have, as their inspiration, the Boston Tea Party.

“It’s kind of like a rally, to speak out against our government’s over-spending and bail-outs,” said Stephanie Fuhr, an assistant event coordinator at Mixon Fruit Farms, 2712 26th Ave. E., where a “tea party” is set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday under Mixon’s covered pavilion.

“It’s regular citizens making a difference,” Fuhr added. “Its purpose is to inspire people to take the initiative, to get out and vote, to call their elected officials, to let them know how they should be voting. We will all sign a letter to mail to elected officials telling them we do care about these things.”

Ed’s Tavern, 10719 Rodeo Drive near Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, is hosting a tea party from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

There also will be a tea party from noon to 2 p.m. at the Sarasota Bayfront Marina near the Unconditional Surrender statue.

Being politically minded, or a member of this or that party, isn’t a requirement for joining a “tea party,” but being patriotic is, said Bradenton stay-at-home mom Christine Prazeres, who will probably visit Ed’s Tavern on Wednesday.

“I don’t think anyone minds paying taxes, but it’s the spending,” Prazeres said. “I feel the spending is weakening our country. I think our children will be living in a country closer to Cuba than the country I grew up in.”

At Mixon Fruit Farm, there will be speakers and patriotic music for two hours.

Dean Mixon, a company co-owner, said he hopes the event draws a crowd.

“It’s a nonpartisan thing,” Mixon said. “We will talk about the tax situation.”

When asked if he thought the nation was moving in the wrong direction, Mixon replied: “From a tax standpoint, I certainly do.”

Gene Sweeney, who is the local chairman of the Ed’s Tavern event, lives in Lakewood Ranch Country Club.

He points out that the tea party concept began Feb. 19 when Rick Santelli, of CNBC, while broadcasting from the floor of the Chicago stock exchange, stated, “‘It looks like you are starting another tea party.’”

The idea sped across the Internet,

“We are not right-wing, wacko conservatives, it’s not about that,” Sweeney said. “It’s about concerned Americans. It’s not Obama-bashing. It’s about reminding the congressmen and senators and federal judges that they work for the American people.”

Tea-party goers fret about the debt they are heaping on their children, Prazeres said.

“They throw figures out, a trillion here and a trillion there,” Prazeres said. “They are starting an avalanche. We would like to get back to the American roots, get back to the Constitution. Government has become too big. We believe it is un-American.”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.

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