|Ocala, FL -
December 18, 2011|
Published in the Ocala Star-Banner on Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 6:30 a.m.
The United Way of Marion County's Parade of Pigs was such a success last year that the organization brought the popular piggies back again this year to help needy families with financial stability.
Throughout November, plain ceramic piggy banks were offered to the community for sponsorships. A $25 donation secured a small, 6-inch pig and a $50 donation secured a large, 9-inch pig. Individuals and businesses were invited to decorate the banks however they desired, with the finished works of art to be given to children in local shelters.
After they were decorated, the pigs were put on "parade," initially on Facebook, for People's Choice voting. Then they were judged at a free event at Gateway Bank on Nov. 29.
The idea behind the annual "Hog Wild' campaign is to promote the importance of saving money to the children who receive the piggy banks, as well as to their parents, who receive financial education information, said United Way of Marion County President Maureen Quinlan.
She said the colorful pig project also is a great way to get the community involved with the United Way.
"We had an excellent response this year. People like that they can reflect their particular style or theme with the pigs," she said.
A total of 91 pigs were sponsored, and proceeds totaled $3,400. Some proceeds were generated from the event (food sales and vote-ticket sales), but most of the funds came from piggy bank sponsorships.
About 50 people attended the actual Parade of Pigs at Gateway Bank, but many more participated in the virtual parade by "liking" their favorites on the local United Way's Internet Facebook page. The top "liked" piggy bank was "Paisley Pig' by Jodi Terracina of Munroe Regional Medical Center. It received more than 260 "likes," said Tina Banner, vice-president of resource development for United Way of Marion County.
"MRMC employees had a ball with the pigs this year," said Banner, noting the hospital sponsored 30 pigs.
Signature Brands was another notable sponsor, with several pigs given appropriate themes based on the company's products: popcorn, cupcakes and jack-o-lanterns. Webster University was a first-time sponsor, with four pigs named ‘Piggy Gaga," "Super Pig," "Mardi' and the "Gorlok' (the University's mascot). Marion County Public Schools' art teachers and students were involved with numerous pigs, as well.
Sue Jones and her students at North Marion Middle School won the small pig award at the Parade of Pigs event with their contribution named "Colt Pig on the Town."
Bill Peoples of MRMC, who created the découpaged pig "Hogwarts," won the big pig award. The Harry Potter-themed piggy bank was among the fancier pigs that will not be donated to children because of embellishments that could be choking hazards, said Banner. Those went up for auction at the Parade of Pigs, as did pigs receiving at least 25 vote-tickets sold for $1 each at the event.
"We ended up with about 70 pigs that will be welcomed by children who are residing at area shelters during the holiday season," said Quinlan. "It's a great win for the whole community."
View the Star-Banner slideshow of the Pigs on Parade