Community Vision on Wednesday will welcome the entire county to “Discover Osceola.”
The free event at Osceola Heritage Park will be from 4 to 8 pm and will showcase more than 100 different exhibitors together in the main arena, including local government agencies, hospitals, nonprofits, businesses and civic organizations.
A zipline sponsored by Kissimmee Utility Authority will criss-cross the event hall and is one of dozens of free, hands-on activities for children and adults.
“This is one of the ways that Osceola County comes to life. It’s for families, older residents, people who are new to the area and folks who’ve lived here their whole lives,” said Sue Ring, associate director of Community Vision, who anticipates 7,000 attendees although past events have drawn crowds as large as 10,000.
Discover Osceola is designed to engage residents and foster community, particularly as the county grows in numbers and in diversity. Quantifying the term “sense of community” is difficult but the event epitomizes the phrase.
“It’s a welcoming, fun, festive environment. There are so few free opportunities for families to come out for some fun and get some education too,” Ring said.
Walking into Discover Osceola opens up information on nearly all aspects of life in the county, one of the fastest-growing in the U.S. Providing links that open doors to public and private services and civic engagement opportunities for residents is the goal.
Adults can browse the information booths while their kids play laser tag or navigate a superhero-themed obstacle course. Meanwhile, prominent displays of fire and police vehicles, including a helicopter, have cross-generational appeal. Each Discover Osceola event has a different theme and this year it’s superheroes.
From first-responders to civilians to students, the theme will spotlight everyday heroes who give back to the community, Ring said.
The outpouring of support for Discover Osceola and Community Vision – from KUA to the Osceola County School District to the county’s major hospitals – also has helped grow the event over the years, said Ring, who helped found Community Vision with Executive Director Donna Sines 20 years ago.
“We provide the environment for these entities to come together and bring their friends and their audiences. And as our partners and sponsors expand and grow so does Discover Osceola. It’s our goal to connect everybody,” said Ring. Discover Osceola, held every other year, and the annual Leadership Osceola course, are among Community Vision’s most high-profile events. They are geared to sustain and strengthen a culture of connectedness – among leaders and average citizens – in Osceola County.
What’s more, Discover Osceola attendees not only get face-to-face with the people representing the various agencies, businesses and organizations exhibiting at the event, but they also get to interact, talk and meet their neighbors.
“It takes all of us. It takes more than just government to connect people with services and ignite that sense of community,” she said. “We want residents to think of Osceola County as home, no matter where they’ve come here from.”