Phil Sunkel IV
The weather at the seventh annual Purple Hatter's Ball at the Spirit of Suwannee Music park in Live Oak, FL, was pretty much perfect for a festival. There was a nice mixture of cloudy and sunny during the day, and the nights were mostly cool. On Sunday afternoon, though, there were some heavy winds and rain, but even that upset ended up being refreshing.
The three-day fest is hosted in honor of the late Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, whose life was cut short at the age of 23 in an act of violence while working as an undercover informant to lessen the severity of non-violent criminal charges. The operation was poorly monitored by police and the worst case scenario took place. Rachel's parents, Margie Weiss and Irv Hoffman, were devastated. To prevent the same tragedy happening again, they contacted State Senator Mike Fasano, and, together, introduced Rachel's Law which ensures officers are educated on how to deal with undercover informants properly. They also took any money from settlements and started the Purple Hatter's Ball. Rachel was a fixture in the Florida festival scene, and it only seemed right that they hold one -- or seven now -- in her honor.