BRADENTON — The billboard in the 6200 block of Cortez Road changes signs every few seconds.
There’s one for Macy’s Furniture and Mattress Clearance Center. Another for Pinnacle Medical Group.
Then there’s one that shouts: Wake Up America!
Above that clarion call, alongside a circular insignia for 13patriots.com, are trillion-dollar figures for government spending on bailouts, cap and trade, and “free” health care.
“People can’t fathom it,” Sarasota’s Jim Fasetti, a 13 Patriots Inc. board member, said of the astronomical figures and national debt. “They’re desensitized to it.”
Not if 13 Patriots can help it.
Started seven months ago by Christine Prazeres, a 45-year-old Bradenton single mother, it’s a local, nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group she said is concerned with the country’s direction.
According to the website, its mission is “to increase the understanding of public policies based on principles of limited government, free markets and individual liberty.”
The group takes its name not just from the 13th Congressional District, but from the 13 original colonies.
“We want to wake up people about the financial irresponsibility of this administration — as well as the previous one,” said Prazeres, former state director for Resistnet, a “patriotic resistance” activist group. “The country is going bankrupt. It’s out of control.
“Not enough people feel strongly as we do about the Constitution, but they are concerned about their money. I think people are waking up to that fact.”
The billboard, which faces westbound traffic, is like a punctuation point to the group’s message.
“First time I’ve seen a huge statement like that,” said Rayma Stowe, owner of nearby Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub for 11 years. “Normally, it’s Gettel Toyota, McDonald’s or Pinnacle.”
Prazeres said 13 Patriots originally sought a site further south along U.S. 41. But Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport nixed it.
“We did not have an easy time, but I think it’s great where it is now,” she said. “It’s a good way to get the message out there.”
Enough to help 13 Patriots pay the $1,600 monthly billboard tab, thanks to donations at its meetings, speaking engagements, etc.
“We’re part of a larger movement, a sleeping giant,” Jim Fasetti said.
Tim Case wants to know more about it.
“I’ve never heard of the group,” said the Clancy’s patron. “But this issue affects most of us in the working class.”