DeSoto Crewe 'invades' Bashaw Elementary before Grand Parade in Bradenton

DeSoto Crewe visits Bashaw Elementary

Bashaw Elementary School students were visited by the DeSoto Crewe on Friday. Video by Meghin Delaney
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Bashaw Elementary School students were visited by the DeSoto Crewe on Friday. Video by Meghin Delaney


Instead of being forced to walk the plank, 8-year-old Jaelah Alexander threw beads to her fellow Bashaw Elementary School classmates from the San Cristobal III after she was volunteered as tribute by physical education teacher Melissa Dowling.

She also donned the Hernando de Soto's marion, complete with huge gold and red feathers. The two were also able to pose for pictures and throw beads.

"Everyone was catching the beads I was throwing and screaming my name," she said. "It was cool."

"Cool" was the word of the day among students at Bashaw, who were treated to a visit from the DeSoto Crewe, in an effort to bring a little history and fun to the students before the annual De Soto Heritage Festival Grand Parade on April 30. Fully dressed as Hernando de Soto and one of his captains, Bob Richardson and Paul Webb introduced students to some major history points about DeSoto and, of course, gave out lots and lots of bead.

"We dress up like this just to make you smile," Richardson said, a hand on his hip. He began to brandish his sword, but stopped first.

"Can I pull the sword out?" Richardson asked. "I'm on school grounds."

He did it anyway, to squeals of delight.

The Hernando DeSoto Historical Society is a nonprofit made up of community volunteers.

Famed Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto (1495-1542) landed on the Manatee River in 1539 in search of gold. He bought pigs and horses to Florida and traveled north through the southern states before he died and was laid to rest in the Mississippi River.

Students got a rundown of

the different color plumage each of the different ranks worn among the crew. Hernando de Soto wore bright gold and red, which no one else wore. The ship captain wore black and white. Colors made the men easily recognizable, Webb said.

"That was so everybody knew where their men were during battle," he said.

Ten-year-old Levi Pelletier watched the presentation with delight, and said he was excited for the parade next week.

"I've been to the parade every year since I was zero," he said. "My favorite part is seeing all the floats. And the beads."

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.