May kicks off the Newtown Heritage Festival 2023 | Economy


Dr. Howard Thurman’s historic home is one of the most forbidden stops on Daytona Beach’s Black Heritage Trail.


DAYTONA BEACH — At the Daytona Beach City Commission meeting Oct. 5, Zone Three Commissioner Quanita May requested that $30,000 be donated to the nonprofit Newtown Heritage Festival, Inc. whose goal is to launch an annual festival in the Newtown area. and to financially support Daytona Beach’s Black Heritage Trail sites.

His request was unanimously approved by the entire commission and is fully supported by Paula Reed, City Commissioner for Zone Six, where Newtown is located.

May and Reed will be the honorary chairs of the event.

Where is ‘Newtown?’

“Newtown” is a historic neighborhood in the heart of Daytona Beach’s black community.

Broadly speaking, its boundaries are International Speedway Boulevard to the north; the Florida East Coast Railway tracks to the east; Shady Place to the south; and Nova Road to the west. (Historically, the area officially known as “Midway” and now commonly referred to as “Mid-town” is north of International Speedway Boulevard.)

Currently, the Black Heritage Trail includes 18 structures located in Black Daytona. Eight are located in Newtown.

Federal Funds


The money May designated comes from federal funds received by the city from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund provided by the Biden administration’s U.S. bailout.

Each commissioner could designate a total of $250,000 to be donated to organizations or invested in projects that would benefit the City.

Economic impact

For May, a small business owner, it was all about employment and generating income.

“The first question I asked the organizers was, ‘What is the economic impact on Daytona Beach?’ she explained.

“They showed me credible research that indicates that for every $100,000 people spend on events like this in Volusia County, three full-time equivalent jobs, over $64,000 household revenue, $6,400 in local government revenue, and $8,400 in state government revenue are generated. .

“These are real dollars going to real people in our community. I consider this an investment in community economic development, not a donation. I’m sure the organization will use that $30,000 effectively.

Reed: “I like ‘ZoraFest’


“I think he has the ability to mirror Zora Neale Hurston once he really gets going,” Reed told the commission.

The annual Zora Neal Hurston Festival in historic Eatonville – just northeast of Orlando – honors Zora Neal Hurston with art exhibits, performances, dance parties and education. It is now in its 33rd edition and has become an international event.

Several activities

Tentative plans for the Newtown Heritage Festival include performances on four separate stages, a car show, a film festival, concerts by the More-house College Glee Club and the Bethune-Cookman University Concert Chorale, a sculpture exhibit Africans, a book fair featuring local authors, and motivational speakers.

There will also be a wall of fame with the names of families who have lived in New-town.

Festival organizers say they will speak with city staff to finalize the date for a three-day event in April 2023 that will close South Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard from Orange Avenue to South Street. for a weekend.

“May’s decision to donate is a critical first step in developing and delivering the largest event in Newtown history,” said Percy Williamson, Sr., who made a presentation to the commission at name of the festival organization.

“There will be a lot of energy at the festival. We invite everyone to celebrate Newtown’s history with us. Funds generated from the event will be used to support sites on the Black Heritage Trail, and we look forward to setting the exact date with Commissioner Reed,” he explained.

Four “villages”


The plan is to have four “villages” that represent black history: the Gullah Geechee Village, which will be located across from the John H. Dickerson Center; the African village, in front of the Mount Zion AME church; the Black Daytonans Village, in front of the Shiloh Baptist Church; and the Caribbean Village, across from Mount Bethel Baptist Church.

The event will begin with a “Carnival Parade and Athletes’ March”, with the parade route beginning at Nova Road and Orange Avenue and heading east to south of Dr MLK to the festival site. A grand marshal will lead the parade, which will also include a traditional Caribbean carnival masquerade band.

Gold medalist McCoy invited

Seabreeze High School track star Walter McCoy, who also grew up in Newtown, qualified for the boycotted 1980 Olympics and then won a gold medal in the Olympics 4×400 meters relay team from 1984, was asked to be the first Grand Marshal.

The Walk of the Athletes will be led by Special Olympians and then followed by athletes from various groups: Professional, Senior, College/University, High School and Youth.

The Dickerson Center, currently undergoing upgrades, will be the epicenter of many events. Construction of the updated center will be complete by the time the festival kicks off in April 2023.

“Emotional Rise”

May said she was looking forward to going to the festival.

“I am very excited about the list of festival events. It’s possible to make this an annual, sustainable event that doesn’t put extreme pressure on our city’s first responders or inconvenience our residents for days or weeks,” she exclaimed.

“Many Daytona Beach residents were very badly affected by Hurricane Ian. It will take months, if not years, for some Daytonians to recover. By the time April 2023 rolls around, many of us will be looking to get the emotional lift that this festival can give us.

local management


The three current members of the New Town Heritage Festival Board of Directors now include Dr. Joanna Showell, a B-CU instructor; Charles Thomas, a local entrepreneur and owner of Greeknalia clothes and clothing store; and Carmen Oliver Williamson, former longtime Newtown resident and retired Mainland High School teacher.

Former B-CU athletic director Lynn Thompson and real estate broker Lucy Stewart Desmore – who grew up in Newtown – have agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs. Others have been invited.

For more information, log on to You can also download the presentation that was submitted to the Daytona Beach City Commission.


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