Hundreds Ignored Cloudy Skies to Enjoy the Crawfish Festival


Photos by Jasmine A. Harris  Hundreds side stepped bad weather to enjoy some tasty mud bugs.

Photos by Jasmine A. Harris
Hundreds side stepped bad weather to enjoy some tasty mud bugs.

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By Jasmine A. Harris

Special to the Outlook

The boiling pots bubbled all day and well into the night on April 25, filled to the brim with crawfish, corn and potatoes at the 22nd Annual Downtown Crawfish Festival at Kleman Plaza.

While other festival goers mingled and tossed back beer and crawdads, Melissa Sims stood off to the side doting on her seven-month-old son, Joseph Andrews. Nearly seven months ago, baby Joseph was lying on a Giraffe OmniBed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) fighting for his life.

This year a percentage of proceeds from the festival will help the TMH NICU purchase one of these life-saving units, which doubles as an incubator and warmer for babies born prematurely.

Sims can attest to the need for more Giraffe OmniBeds. On Sep. 22, 2014, she gave birth to Joseph after only 31 weeks of gestation. He spent 44 days in the NICU — 22 at TMH and 22 at Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. She said she came to the festival to support the cause.

Those beds are literally lifesaving,” she said as she cradled the little miracle staring up at her. “Between those beds and his nurses and the care that he got, without those, he wouldn’t be here today.”

Another portion of the festival’s proceeds is going to the Tallahassee Police Unity Tour. Each year members bicycle from New Jersey to D.C. in the National Police Unity Tour to raise funds for families of fallen police officers.

Owen Long, marketing director for Tallahassee Hospitality Group, which coordinated the crawfish festival, said organizers chose to give to causes that have directly impacted our community in recent months.

“With the new mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillium, having two premature babies, we decided that this is something that’s touched all of us,” he said, “And with the events happening back in the fall that were unfortunate with Deputy Chris Smith, we wanted to give back to the Tallahassee Police Unity [Tour].”

Smith was killed by a gunman on Nov. 22 while responding to a call about a house fire.

For Michaela Mullen, contributing to the two causes made the spicy mudbugs even better.

“I think it’s great! Everybody loves crawfish,” she said while peeling one. “To be able to eat crawfish, hangout and have a good time and that benefit a good cause in the process is wonderful.”

In addition to 3,000 pounds of red hot crawfish, festival attendees enjoyed live music and drinks along with a bounce house and face painting for the kids.

For the 22nd time in a row at the Downtown Crawfish Festival, Tallahassee let the good times roll.

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