5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Friday, April 11, 2014

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Friday, April 11, 2014.

(1) Honor escort for Sgt. Ferguson

Patriot Guard riders are hosting an honor escort for Army Sgt. Daniel Ferguson on Friday. The 1993 Mulberry High School graduate died in the Ft. Hood shootings.

Witnesses say Ferguson acted heroically by keeping the shooter from getting inside a room crowded with military personnel. He was fatally shot while holding the door to the room closed.

The 21-year Army veteran served in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and had earned numerous awards and medals including a Bronze Star.

His body is scheduled to arrive at Tampa International Airport on a Southwest Airlines plane around 6:50 p.m. today. An honor escort for Ferguson will lead his body from the airport to Lakeland Funeral Home in Lakeland.

A private funeral will be held in Lakeland on Saturday. Ferguson will then be laid to rest at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

(2) "Eddie" retires

Military working dog Eddie will be retired from active duty with full ceremonial honors at MacDill Air Force Base on Friday.

In October, Eddie got sick during a training session at MacDill and made headlines when he was rushed to Blue Pearl Animal Hospital. Veterinarians say Eddie suffered heat-stroke. Staff Sgt. George Holmes sat cage-side with Eddie all night during his treatment.

Eddie served more than five years with the 6th Security Forces Squadron. He deployed once and conducted 15 secret service missions.

During his deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, Eddie located two improvised explosive devices, saving the lives of his 13-man unit.

The retirement ceremony is scheduled to occur at 8:15 a.m. at MacDill Air Force Base.

(3) Tampa Bay Blues Festival

The Tampa Bay Blues Festival opens up on Friday at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.
The three-day festival is one of the world's preeminent blues music events, having presented over 250 of the world's best blues artists since 1995.
This year's featured performers are: Buddy Guy, Michael McDonald, and Irma Thomas.
Gates open today at noon. Music will continue until 10:00 p.m.
Attendees can bring sunscreen, lawn chairs, blankets, personal cameras and umbrellas. Tents, pets, coolers, weapons, alcohol, guitars, and bicycles are not allowed.
Today's line-up is as follows:

  • 12:30 p.m. - Selwyn Birchwood        
  • 2:30 p.m. - Matt Schofield
  • 4:30 p.m. - Coco Montoya
  • 6:30 p.m. - Shemekia Copeland
  • 8:30 p.m. - Buddy Guy

Tickets to the Tampa Bay Blues Festival are $40 per day ($50 for Saturday). Children ages 12 and under are free.
For more information, visit www.tampabaybluesfest.com .

(4) Bellamy Brothers benefit concert

The Bellamy Brothers are performing in a benefit concert at Pasco High School on Friday to raise money for their alma mater.

Howard Bellamy graduated from Pasco High in 1964. His brother, David, graduated four years later.

Proceeds from the concert will help fund Pasco High's athletic programs. The concert is being held in conjunction with the school's annual Reunion of the Decades, hosted this year by the Class of 1974.

The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. at W.F. Edwards Stadium. General admission tickets to only the concert at $15. Reserved seating is available for $25. Tickets can be purchased at Pasco High School and Dade City Animal Clinic

To learn more about the Bellamy Brothers, visit www.bellamybrothers.com .

(5) Away Mission sci-fi/fantasy convention

The Away Mission science-fiction fantasy convention beams into Tampa on Friday.

The three-day con features appearances by actors and sci-fi/fantasy authors, question & answer sessions, autograph signings, a vendor's room, collectables auction, costume contest, games, and more.

Guests include William Shatner "Captain Kirk", Leonard Nimoy (via Skype) "Spock", Kevin Sorbo "Hercules", Saul Rubinek from Warehouse 13, John De Lancie "Q", Denise Crosby "Lt. Tasha Yar" and Susie Plaxson "K'Ehleyr".

The convention is being held at the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore at 2225 North Lois Avenue.

Show hours are Friday 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.; Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

A limited number of tickets are still available for purchase at the registration desk at the convention.

For a complete convention schedule and a list of tickets available, visit www.away-mission.com/events.html .

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