The City of Deerfield Beach's Founders' Day Celebration kicks off today. Although this is the 66th-annual event, the city traces its history back much further. A post office was first established at Deerfield, so named for the numerous deer that grazed along the Hillsboro River at the end of the 19th Century. The population at the time was about 20. In 1925, the town, by then including 1,300 souls, was incorporated. Like a multitude of other Florida cities, Deerfield decided to add Beach to the end of its name, doing so in 1939. Situated at the northern border of Broward County, Deerfield Beach, now with a population of 50,000, has always had a position as a sort of crossroads of South Florida, a place people pass through to get from here to there. But through February 16, the city is a destination in and of itself, as it puts on a carnival filled with rides, games, entertainment, food, drinks, and all the other accouterments necessary for a proper carnival. The event takes place from 5 to 11 p.m. today and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday at the Main Beach Parking Lot (between SE First and Second streets along A1A, Deerfield Beach). Tickets cost $10 in advance. And, please, don't feed the carnies. Call 954-480-4433.
Ah, Valentine's Day. Aside from raucous rock shows (see story), a variety of events and programs awaits the discerning date-minded valentine. Naturally, a few of South Florida's cities have taken it upon themselves to host a mushy Valentine's dance à la the senior prom. The best bet for those with a yen for ballroom dancing is probably the Sweethearts Ball 2003. Held at the Tamarac Community Center (8601 W. Commercial Blvd., Tamarac) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the ball features refreshments, music by David Ray-mond, door prizes, and a keepsake photo. This year's dance features "famous couples of the past" as its theme, so dust off your Napoleon and Josephine outfits, or perhaps the Anthony and Cleopatra. Preregistration is required, and tickets cost $5. Call 954-724-2445.
With four records in four years, experimental post-rockers the Mercury Program have proven to be in constant evolution. The group's most recent effort, 2002's A Data Learn the Language, abandons all pretense at vocals while adding the electronic component that is swiftly becoming a necessity in the post-rock genre. Adding electronica to an already-engaging formula of loose rock songs infused with obvious jazz influences has made the band more interesting than ever. The Gainesville-based group arrives at Respectable Street Cafe (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) at 8 p.m. Jacksonville sadcore songwriter Tracy Shedd opens. Call 561-832-0706.
Sailboat Bend is perhaps Fort Lauderdale's most secluded neighborhood. Although within a stone's throw of Riverfront, the area remains a nugget of Old Florida amid the strip malls of the modern age. One can thank the Fort Lauderdale City Commission for that, as it declared the area a historic site in 1992 so that the homes, many of them 70 or 80 years old, would not meet the wrecking ball. And that would certainly be their fate, given what has happened in similar neighborhoods such as Victoria Park in recent years. Take a tour of Sailboat Bend's homes with the 16th-annual Sailboat Bend Home and Garden Festival. Beginning at Esplanade Park (corner of SW Second Street and SW Second Avenue, Fort Lauderdale), a trolley shows off six of the neighborhood's best homes, including the featured home of the tour, the residence of Mary Ellen Clark and Amy Stuart. Clark, a bronze-medal winner in diving at the 1992 Olympics, and Stuart, former director of operations for the NBA, purchased the rather dilapidated 1925 home and restored it to mint condition. Following the tour, the trolley arrives at a festival in Fort Lauderdale Park. Cost for the entire trip is $15, and trolleys run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 954-779-1913.
Ah, President's Day. The love and romance of Valentine's Day gets put aside for another year and gives way to rampant jingoism. And if you're one to enjoy patriotic displays, the Hallandale Beach Branch Library (300 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach) is the place for you. Celebrate America!, a musical salute to all things red, white, and blue, features Ken Stuart performing patriotic and traditional American songs. And although plenty of songs have been written about the nation as a whole, Stuart also performs numbers dedicated to specific states and cities from across the union. From "New York, New York" to "Chicago" to "California Here I Come," no geographic locale goes unnoticed. Admission is free. Call 954-457-1750.
February is Black History Month, and the City of Hollywood celebrates with the Taste of Black History. Traditional Southern food fills empty stomachs, while chefs representing various Caribbean nations battle it out in the Caribbean Cookoff. And once your hunger is satiated, satisfy your aural urges by checking out live music by the Dillard Center for the Arts Orchestra, the Dillard Elementary Strings, Calvin Taylor, and others. The event takes place at Hollywood City Hall (2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission is free, though a Southern meal runs $6, which includes beverage but not dessert. Call 954-921-3073.