NewsRegion East HillsboroughPlant City


Florida Strawberry Festival parking lot at corner of Reynolds & Fig Streets helps special needs kids

Lot benefits Willis Peters Exceptional Center
Posted at 2:59 AM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 06:31:20-05

PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Thousands of people will descend on Plant City each day this week for the final days of the 2018 Florida Strawberry Festival.

It is going be crowded, especially when Brad Paisley plays this weekend.

Florida Strawberry Festival 2018: Everything you need to know

Parking might be a problem. But there is one easy-to-access lot where you can park that will also help local kids.

At the corner of Reynolds and Fig Streets, on the south side of the festival grounds, teachers from the Willis Peters Exceptional Center wave cars into a wide lot for $10 each.

RELATED: People forget where they parked at the Strawberry Festival each year

The center is a public school for kids with special needs. Funding programs is always a struggle, so the festival is a crucial part of their fundraising each year.

“We need those extra funds to make their experiences meaningful and engaging,” says the Center’s Rebecca Nance. 

The lot is owned by the Wells Memorial and Event Center and has a special backstory.

In 2006, Wells Memorial manager Verna McKelvin befriended a blind boy who lived nearby. He went to Willis Peters. So impressed by him and his education, she wanted to help.

“You can’t do enough for these kids,” says McKelvin.

Depending on how many cars they can lure into the parking lot, the school can bring in between $16,000 and $22,000 over the course of the 11-day Strawberry Festival.