Lightning fans find a home at Hablo Taco

Blue and white jerseys converged on Channelside Plaza on Saturday night, as Tampa Bay Lightning fans hoped to witness the team extend its seven-game win streak.

After beating the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 21, the Lightning were looking to extend their streak against the division leading, and in-state rival, Florida Panthers.

The official watch party of the Lightning took place at Hablo Taco, a Mexican themed restaurant that sits in the shadows of Amalie Arena. Bartenders pour tequila into margarita bowls that rival Lord Stanley’s Cup in size; the bar even refers to the drink as “Stanley Cup’s cousin from south of the border.”

“This is all for the hockey team? I didn’t realize that it was so big down here,” said David Pearson, a tourist from Boston.

With easy access to and from the Tampa Cruise terminal, it’s just a quick trolley ride away from the downtown hotels. This makes it a common occurrence to run into a couple like David and Lisa Pearson from Boston, misplaced Bruins fans who quickly realized that they may have made a mistake in their venue selection.

What may have been overwhelming for a couple on vacation, was actually sparse showing from previous Lightning watch parties; a result of the Sticks of Fire missing from making their usual appearance at watch parties. The Sticks of Fire, a budding Lightning fan base, traveled with the team to Sunrise, FL, to support the players, leaving a noticeable absence.

The Pearsons quickly closed out their tab, making way for a young couple at the bar. Cody Gage and Parisee Wood, both of whom are Lightning fans who came out to their first watch party. While Wood was born and raised in Clearwater, she has never attended a single game, and hopes to rectify that this season.

“Living in Florida my whole life, I wasn’t really exposed to hockey while growing up,” Wood said. “With as good as they’ve been, I started to take notice, and now I can’t wait to watch them.”

It was up to in-game announcer Greg Wolf and the Bolt Brigade to hype the crowd; not really a hard thing to do when you’re giving away memorabilia signed by star players like Ondrej Palat and Brian Boyle. Even the Lightning mascot, Thunder Bug, made it out to the party.

Gage has followed the Lightning for the past four years, not too long after he decided to move from Vermont to Florida. Having left what is considered to be a typical hockey market for the likes of Tampa, he admitted to the market being untraditional.

“Of course it’s an untraditional hockey market. There’s no way that a native Floridian would know about the traditions of old hockey but that doesn’t matter,” Gage said. “That’s what teams like Tampa and Dallas bring to the table, an unorthodox and fresh point of view.”

Uber Drivers Protest Gasparilla in Wake of Rate Cuts

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Uber drivers cruised down North Dale Mabry and turned off their apps during the afternoon hours of Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Downtown Tampa was flooded with inebriated pirates celebrating the 101st Gasparilla Pirate Festival on Saturday. Almost all of them relied on Uber services to take them to where X marked the spot, the following bar on the map.

While Uber drivers searched Bayshore Boulevard picking up dressed up pirates, a separate group of Uber drivers gathered for a different cause.

Nearly 30 Uber drivers gathered on North Dale Mabry to protest the recent changes made to driving rates. Uber recently cut 20 percent off prices for Tampa drivers in an effort to reduce the “slump” they suffered in January, according to their website.

Messages such as “UberFail” and “Lower fare=higher surge” inscribed on their cars showed that these drivers were trying to send a message.

Uber originally started at $1.80 in the Tampa Bay area and has since dropped to 65 cents per mile. Brian Decker, 22, has been a six month Uber driver and said that drivers are not satisfied with the rate cuts and feel as if Uber is reaping the benefits.

“We chose Gasparilla to send this message because it’s one of the most important days for Uber drivers in Tampa,” Decker said. “Uber has constantly been cutting down the rate and leaving drivers with almost no reason to drive.”

The protest started at 2:30 p.m. which was expected to be Uber’s highest time of demand with increased prices. Uber recorded rates of 6.9 times the average rate during the afternoon of last years Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Despite last years increased rates, drivers complained that this year’s rates were not nearly as close to what was expected.

“It’s pretty ridiculous quite honestly,” Decker said. “I wasn’t planning to drive today and I’ve seen that the surge is only around 1.5 and that’s not close to what Uber was saying.”

Despite certain Uber drivers not being satisfied with the expected surge rate, Gasparilla attendee Samantha Heffernan, 24,  said her price of travel was increased certainly from regular rates.

“I was told to enter a promo code that would take money off my Uber charge, but even with that I still had to pay 34 dollars,” Heffernan said. “The surge rate I saw was about 3.2 times the normal rate, so I’m pretty confident drivers made their money.”

Several companies such as Captain Morgan gave Uber users a promo code for which allowed users to get a ride for a discounted rate.

Uber has yet to address whether or not rates will increase for drivers, which according to Decker, will affect their numbers.

“Some people use this as their main job, others don’t. It doesn’t matter what your occupation is, 65 cents a mile is not going to work for anyone,” Decker said.

 

A return to Gasparilla marks a return home

After a four year hiatus, full of tragedies and blessings, Trecenia Foster and her boyfriend Anthony are finally back in Tampa. They marked their return by attending the Gasparilla parade and celebration on Saturday.

The couple embraced the memories they made at Gasparilla in the past, and were eager to make more.

“It was fantastic, the streets were filled with people who are celebrating together in unity and fun,” Foster said. “We also got to meet new people from all over the world who we became great friends with.”

Through the four years away from Gasparilla, the couple has had some major reproductive health concerns, which led to three miscarriages. The couple was still attempting to remain open and positive about this and Gasparilla has played a major role in that. It has helped them be able to cope and find comfort in being around others.

“We are pretty reserved and didn’t like being around people.” Foster said. “It (Gasparilla) has opened us up and allowed us to let loose and be open with the community around us.”

Gasparilla has impacted this couple in a positive way and has helped them feel more connected with people as a whole.

With Anthony being active duty in the Army, the couple has spent roughly four years out of the United States. They spent some time in Qatar, a country in the Middle East, which prevented them from attending Gasparilla. Upon returning to Tampa they had their first child.

“We welcomed our first daughter in 2004 after having three losses, we were finally blessed with her,” Foster said.

This year the couple dressed up in the same costumes that they wore four years ago and got a great reaction from the Gasparilla crowd. Anthony dressed up as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Foster as Sparrow’s partner. However there was one downfall in Foster’s opinion.

“We got stopped over 100 times for photos, I am so glad to be home,” Foster said. “That’s one thing that is annoying about dressing up, but it is fun,”

Overall the couple had a great time. This year they declined to be on floats, but maybe next year they’ll accept the offer.

“It was a blast, we were asked to go on floats too but declined,” Foster said.

Gasparilla: Beginning a tradition

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Bauduc jumps on Wojcik’s back to pose for a photo. Photo courtesy:  Kristopher Rodriguez

For best friends Anna Bauduc and Aley Wojcik, Gasparilla is the beginning of a new tradition.

After meeting a few months ago, Bauduc and Wojcik have become inseparable. To honor their friendship, they’ve decided to start a tradition of attending Gasparilla every year together.

“I love traditions, so this was a no brainer,” Bauduc said. “We want our friendship to last no matter what and what better event to come to then Gasparilla?”

Their goal is to maintain contact throughout the years to come. Coming together for this event will keep their friendship alive.

“We all know that as we grow up, we lose some friends,” Wojcik said. “We’re doing this because we know Gasparilla will be around for a while and that gives us an event to come back to every year.”

They’ve heard about Gasparilla from their friends and siblings, but the amount of fun they’ve had was surprising to them.

“I was a bit skeptical about this whole thing,” Wojcik said. “This just seemed like a place where people come to get drunk and that’s not really my scene.”

She was happy to see how wonderful everyone around her was. Finding out that these people are friendly and are here to have a good time has made the event exceed her expectations.

“We met a guy who came all the way from New York,” Bauduc said. “He told us his parents used to come to Gasparilla ages ago and he wanted to see what all the hype was about.”

With around 200,000 people parading down Bayshore Boulevard, this year’s Gasparilla lived up to its reputation.

“It is pretty intense at first with all the people around you,” Wojcik said. “But once you get used to that and the beads start flying, it’s all fun.”

Bauduc and Wojcik spent the day chronicling their adventures through pictures. Bauduc jumped on Wojcik’s back at one point in excitement. They were both clearly enjoying their time at Gasparilla.

“Hopefully we’ll be here next year and the year after that,” Wojcik said. “Knowing my luck, something ridiculous will try and prevent me from coming.”

“The beginning of a tradition is always nerve-wracking,” Bauduc said. “But we hope we can continue doing this and maybe when we’re old and boring we have kids we can pass along the tradition to.”

Tampa’s gasparilla traditions increases pirate population

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Thousands lined Bayshore Blvd. to get a glimpse of pirate themed floats.

If you were to ask a Tampa native what the Gasparilla Pirate Festival was, they may say an event full of tradition, pride, excitement and debauchery. If you asked a newcomer what Gasparilla was, they may compare it to an outtake of a “Pirates of the Caribbean film.” Both would be right.

The annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival has been celebrated in Tampa Bay since 1904, and more than 100 years later, it is still one of the most anticipated events of the year. Located along Bayshore Blvd., the festival attracts around 300,000 attendees. There is one common theme among the crowd, regardless of age. Pirates. Almost everyone is dressed as pirates. For the Gasparilla veterans, this is much more than a hyped up costume party, it’s a lifestyle.

“I was born on Gasparilla in 1977, and the pirates came to the hospital and actually held me,” said Ryan Euhus, an avid Gasparilla goer dressed head to toe in elaborate pirate garb. “I’m my own pirate crew.”

Gasparilla is a time for Tampa residents to forget about their stresses, bond with their family members and actually party like it’s 1821. Where there is a horde of pirates, there must be a fleet of ships as well. That’s where the floats come in, with the parade lasting around 100 organizations, businesses or krewes. Pirate krewes, that is.

 

Ryan Euhus, a local artist, and friend Heather Hughes pose for their favorite Tampa tradition.
Ryan Euhus, a local artist, and friend Heather Hughes pose for their favorite Tampa tradition.

“I’m 37 and have been to Gasparilla every year since I was 4. The only year I missed was when I was pregnant,” said Heather Hughes, an excited crowd member.

Not everyone in attendance had experienced Gasparilla before. Most newcomers are college students who are originally from another city or state. They’re intrigued by the idea of a celebration revolved around dressing like pirates, drinking copious amounts of rum and removing garments of clothing for plastic beads.

“It’s my first time. It’s a little hectic but it’s a lot of fun so far,” said Jillian Olsen, a junior and resident assistant at the University of South Florida. “I’m expecting it to be elaborate and I want to get a lot of beads.”

Hectic doesn’t even begin to explain the crowd so large and lively, cell phone service literally goes down for hours. Good luck finding your Uber in a sea of drunken scallywags waving plastic swords. Even so, Tampa residents start counting down the days until next year’s celebration.

“It’s a time to have fun, and be proud of your city,” said Hughes. “It’s definitely something to experience.”

 

Collecting The “Booty” From the Pirade Of Pirates

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Photo by Dana Achatz

Even though some people view Gasparilla as a holiday to make it an all day party Marilyn Pereira wasn’t convinced. Pereira decided to stay away from the madness at Bayshore Boulevard and work a double shift as a server at World of Beer on Saturday. To her there was not much of an appeal to attend the event. It was more important to her to make some money than see the parade.

“I didn’t request off for Gasparilla because I didn’t really even know what it was,” Pereira said. “I just moved here and I didn’t know Gasparilla was today until pretty much everyone I work with requested off.”

Sometimes called the Mardi Gras of Florida; the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts thousands to Tampa every year. The parade takes over the streets of downtown for a majority of the day. People from all over Florida make the trip to celebrate, and most of them are dressed up like pirates.

Pereira worked all morning and through most of the evening. She said she saw an increase in customers during her second shift Saturday evening after the parade had ended.

She described large groups of people of all ages weighed down with beads and wearing fake black beards and hats with giant feathers. She seemed to find the outfits a little silly. Even though she made more money than she had originally expected, she decided it might be worth it to attend Gasparilla next year.

“Yeah I would go. It would’ve been fun to tag along with someone,” Pereira said. “Maybe next year.”

Ban On Tobacco Smoke Now Includes Entire Campus

After six years of USF’s first tobacco ban, the university decided to spread the policy throughout the entire campus.

USF officials say the policy was made to incentivize people to stop smoking, not to punish them.

“USF Health had previously gone tobacco and smoke free in 2009 and the St. Pete and Sarasota Manatee campuses are also tobacco smoke free,” said USF Assistant Director of Communications Aaron Nichols.

“So, Tampa is the last campus in the system to make this change.”

In 2011 USF President Judy Genshaft created the Tobacco Use Task Force, which consisted in a group of students and employees helping promote the transition of smoke free campus.

“That’s what led to the change of 2012 to restrictive smoking to certain areas. At the time, they didn’t think that the campus community was ready to go totally smoke and tobacco free,” said Nichols.

“And, that’s given us a really good transition period to lead up to this. At the time, I think, there was a lot shock at the policy and now it’s been well received.”

USF students have expressed mixed feelings about this new policy that starts next year which eliminates all 24 designated smoking areas.

“I think it benefits the environment and it also bothers some people because of the smell,” said USF student Nick Ramos. “I know whenever I walk by, I just like to keep my distance because the smell bothers me.”

USF student Ibrahim Aldairem says although the policy will be active next semester, many students have mentioned that they will continue smoking.

USF officials say the new policy will not be enforced by the campus police. They are hoping for peer enforcement.

 

Incoming police chief plans to build trust with Tampa residents

The City of Tampa Police Department’s mission statement is to reduce crime and enhance the quality of life, through a cooperative partnership with all citizens. Chief Eric Ward plans to do his best during his term to make that happens.

“Back in the sixties and seventies, there was a strained relationship between law enforcement and the community,” said Chief of Police Eric Ward. “So I sought out this profession to make a difference.”

Chief Ward, a 27-year veteran, was appointed in May of this year by Mayor Bob Buckhorn. He was chosen over two other candidates —Mary O’Connor and Brian Dugan— Chief Ward later named the two his assistant chiefs of police. Chief Ward succeeded former Chief Jane Castor after her retirement.

One goal Chief Ward strives for is making a difference. Chief Ward, a Tampa native, stresses that citizen involvement needs to be increased to help reduce crime. He would like to leave the city of Tampa in better shape than it was when he began his tenure.

“It all boils down to when I first started,” said Chief Ward. “I wanted to make a difference and as chief of police I can say that I have that opportunity and I’m doing that now.”

Chief Ward credits his family as a strong support system. He makes it a point to always have his entire family at events.

“I was excited because I knew how much of a hard worker he is,” said Alberta Ward, Chief Ward’s wife. “I thought of the great things he could do for our city that he loves, our city that he cares for.”

Chief Ward continues to advise his officers and the citizens of Tampa to be vigilant. He advises if you see something wrong do what’s right to help the community.

 

Pre-med student regrets spending Gasparilla’s day in class

Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley
Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley

After taking a quiz on the basics of experimental design, USF sophomore Ashtyn Leep watched the teaching assistant explain the different parts of the microscopes they would be using for their biology lab late Saturday afternoon.

Leep was in her second class of the day, having spent the earlier part of the afternoon in a physics lab. While taking classes over the weekend would be less than preferable in any given week, Leep was particularly frustrated on this Saturday.

While she pulled on her white lab coat in the Interdisciplinary Sciences building, her friends were enjoying the general mayhem of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Bayshore Boulevard.

“I hosted a pre-gaming party for my friends, and I didn’t go to Gasparilla,” said Leep. “I’m so mad, I almost cried.”

Her plans to attend the parade were complicated last week when a classmate pointed out that event overlapped with her 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. labs. She remained hopeful that she might make it for a brief time, so she did not cancel the party. It became clear to Leep Saturday morning that it would be impossible to make the trip from the university area to South Tampa and be back in time for her classes.

“I got Taco Bell to make myself feel better,” said Leep.

Leep said friends from as far away as Boca Raton began their day imbibing at her house. Some even borrowed her clothes for the parade. She sat on the sideline, preparing to learn about the parts of a microscope instead of the art of bead catching.

“My friend’s dad is a doctor, so I was tempted to have him write me a doctor’s note,” she said. “But I didn’t.”

Freshman Shawna Miller said she has gone to Gasparilla with a big group of friends and family every year until this one – she was also stuck in the lab. Like Leep, she had to live vicariously through pictures and videos her friends posted on social media.

“All of my friends are on Snapchat,” said Miller. “They’ve got their beads on, and I’m in a biology lab.”

Leep still had a bit of fun ahead of her. Her friends planned to return to her house after the parade to continue celebrating Gasparilla – and they owed her some of their treasure.

“They got me beads,” Leep said. “Hopefully. I’ll be mad if they didn’t.”

Gasparilla: Hard Rock Girls

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Photo from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Instagram 

When pirates invade the city of Tampa, residents party with the swashbucklers as they stagger across Bayshore Blvd. Leading the convoy of invaders was the crew of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

With Seminole Hard Rock as the primary sponsor of the 2016 Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the crew was second only to the grand marshal of the parade this year. Every year Seminole Hard Rock makes it a priority to provide the opportunity for their workers to participate in the parade.

On this year’s float they had members from multiple sections of the hotel and casino, President of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino John Fontana and members of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Without a doubt though, the people who attract the most attention on the casino themed float are the Hard Rock Girls, a group of women who represent Hard Rock through promotional events and the annual calendar.

“It’s the most fun I have every year as a Hard Rock Girl” said Jasah Millican, “We get on the float and then we throw beads from start to finish, we dance and have a great time.”

Millican is in her third year as a Hard Rock girl and considers her job, as an ambassador of the company, a privilege.

“As a Hard Rock Girl, it is always your job to be smiling, throwing beads and making sure everyone has good time.” Millican said.

While it may seem that the girls are there to just only entertain, they also make sure to give a personal touch to the parade. This year they met with the parade’s grand marshal, paralyzed Army veteran, Chief Warrant Officer Romulo “Romy” Camargo.

“He gave so much, and lost so much for his country, but he’s still giving back to the vets of Tampa.” Millican said. “Now Tampa is giving back to him…It was a much more personal side of the parade.”

When the Hard Rock girls aren’t going throwing beads during pirate themed parades, they are still raising money for charitable causes, through their calendars.

“As far as benefitting us financially, it all goes back into Tampa.” Millican said, “Why wouldn’t I take a picture for charity, for Tampa, my hometown?”

Behind the scenes of No Clubs Media

The Tampa Bay area is host to various bands and artists throughout the year. No Clubs Media helps make the events possible by specializing in campaigns and social media.

No Clubs Media Marketing Director, Kristin Stigaard, is a part of a team that creates the shows for concertgoers.

“People don’t realize that we are the people that put on these shows because we don’t really market ourselves,” Stigaard said. “We market the shows.”

According to their website, No Clubs State Media is a promotional company that has brought iconic and original entertainers to the area for the past 25 years. They promote the shows through campaigns and social media.

State Theatre is one of the many venue halls that host the shows promotional companies put on.

“No Clubs is the kind of company where they book the up and coming bands and they keep booking them as they keep rising,” State Theatre Public Relations and Marketing Director Lucy Volpe said. “They start here at State Theatre and keep growing from there.”

Some of their more notable names include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Carly Rae Jepsen.

“It’s kind of like a community when you’re in a concert setting and you’re singing along,” said Stigaard. “That’s what we do.”

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

A second home at the Y

Carrollwood, FL- For some people, YMCA is a classic party song and dance, for many others, it’s a place called home.

Officially referred to as, “the Y” now, this nonprofit organization is still a place of comfort. Whether it be an after school program or a late night gym session after a long day at work, it’s a second home for some.

The Y defines themselves as a nonprofit organization like no other, with locations in 10,000 neighborhoods across the country.

In Carrollwood, the Bob Sierra Family YMCA underwent major renovations using money donated entirely by the public and parents of the children who spend their days there.

Through these generous donations, the Top Flight Gymnastics portion of the Y was built.

Inside these four big walls, children ages 2-17 spend time escaping the real world and its problems by entering a safe place with their friends.

Destiny Garcia is one of the many gymnasts at Top Flight. She uses her time there to escape from anything going on outside the gym.

“It means a lot to me because its very encouraging and it helps a lot of us get through many problems that we have,” Garcia said.

With their friends, these future gymnasts work hard. This place is more than a place to go when school lets out, it’s a second home.

“I’m here 24/7 from 3:30 to, I would have to 7 or 8:30, everyday, Monday through Friday including today, it’s a lot of work, it’s like either you commit or you don’t commit,” gymnast Emma Barton said.

The YMCA is committed to making sure kids like Emma will always have a place to call home.

To learn more about the Y, visit: www.ymca.net.

The Truth Behind the USF Seal

The USF seal is a significant icon to USF history. It’s the first landmark you see on Collins, and in the middle of the Marshall Student center.

But what does it mean?

Jacob Stephenson, a freshman at USF, voices his opinion on the based on the myth he’s heard.

“Yea, I heard that if you step on it you won’t graduate. That’s a given. So pretty sure no one actually steps on it. I’ve seen people step on it, but I’m sure they’re not going to graduate,” Stephenson said.

Fahad Al Raee is also a freshman, and he heard the same rumor from advisors.

“They told me you should not step on the logo because if you do you will not be able to pass,” Raee said.

The Seal was created by Henry Gardner and was first used in the USF Catalog called Accent on Learning. But besides the myth going around campus about the seal, John S. Allen, the USF’s first president defined its meaning.

“President Allen, he knew a lot of the programs here were studying the earth, everything happening on the earth. He by trade was, by his academic background was an astronomer,” Andy Huse said, from Special Collections. “There’s the sun symbolizing knowledge, light, heat, life. The lamp symbolizes enlightenment. The Green corresponds with the Earth, and the Gold corresponds with the Sun.”

 

Parking for booty during Gasparilla

Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group
Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group, P.A.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along West Platt Street, people were profiting for different causes by offering parking spots in private properties.

Sherryl Cook, employment specialist at the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, was one of them. She started at the parking lot around 9:30 a.m.

The Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind is a non-profit organization that offers rehabilitation programs for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

“It usually picks up around one when the parade is going on,” Cook said.

The idea started 16 years ago when one of her coworkers discovered a group of homeless charging people for using their office parking lot during Gasparilla. They decided it would be a good idea create a fundraiser to collect donations to support the organization.

They agreed to a price match with other nearby parking lots to make it fair. This year they charged 20 dollars for each spot.

There were 50 spots, and Cook said she planned to be there until 2 p.m.

Cooks’ plans for the rest of the day were going home and resting after a long morning at the parking lot.

Henry Sutter, 57, was another Tampa resident who decided to make some profit out of Gasparilla.

Holding a “Best Parking” sign, Sutter started at 9 a.m. working at the parking lot with his wife Patty Sutter, who works as a legal attorney at the Business Law Group, P.A., a community association law firm.

They have done this before for collecting money and donating it to the Boys Scouts or churches. This year they did it if for their own profit.

“This is year is going to my daughter’s college car fund,” Henry Sutter said.

They had 35 spots. They charged 30 dollars per car.

“Once every two or three years, I’m here,” Henry Sutter said. “We rotate turns with other people from the law firm.”

Local church benefits from carnival’s food, fun

 

Novemberfest is back in Brandon this weekend. The annual carnival, now in its 46th year, will be held on the grounds of Nativity Catholic Church.

R.J. Brauneker, the chairman of Novemberfest, has been involved with the event for the past 42 years. Brauneker attended the event when he was a student at Nativity Catholic School. His parents were on the committee when he was a child.

“It just seemed right to pay it forward,” said Brauneker. “I’ve enjoyed it just as much as they have.”

Novemberfest has become one of the more popular carnivals in the Tampa Bay area. Thousands of visitors funnel in for the food, countless rides and musical and dance acts.

Some of the rides featured this year are the Ferris wheel, the Moon Raker and the Ring of Fire.

Eighth-graders from Nativity Catholic School enjoy hosting the event.

“Kiddie rides are the best rides,” said one of the students.

“From the top of the Ferris wheel, you can see Tampa,” said another student. “It’s really nice.”

“I’m coming back every year until I pass away,” said another one.

 

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The event is also the church’s largest fundraiser. Kim Rice-Spencer, a volunteer at the event, said that it is about more than raising money for the church.

“For every 50 people that are not a part of parish that come out, if they don’t have a parish or a church home – maybe one will – but even if they don’t, then it’s something we’ve done not just for our parish but for our community,” she said.

Novemberfest is made possible by hundreds of volunteers, like Brauneker and Rice-Spencer, who dedicate many hours of their time to making it a reality.

For more news about the event, follow Nativity Catholic Church’s new Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Novemberfest runs from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22.

 

Hope for Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 28th I went to feed the homeless and met some amazing people. We started at Sacred Heart Catholic Church where we prepared the food. Then drove it over to St. Peter Claver Catholic School where we served it to hungry people. While preparing the food I met an amazing woman named Kim, who has been coming every Saturday since she got married and even after her stroke, she still lends a hand. Many people were so hungry they came through the line two or three times. They also received a doggie bag that helps them throughout the rest of the day. I went there to give back but in the end I was the one that received the most.

Photo gallery: Fun in the Sunset at Pier 60

The Sunset at Pier 60 Daily Festival is located at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It is a weather permitting event that is every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It starts two hours before the sun sets and lasts two hours after the sunset fades away.

At this event, skilled crafters and artisans come together to display their handmade crafts and entertainers perform their latest tricks for the public to watch. The Sunset Celebration Festival started on March 17th, 1995 and in 2015 the festival celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

After decades, St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival still brings in crowds

For the past 24 years, St. Joan of Arc Church has hosted the annual St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival. The church is located in Spring Hill, and carries a reputation for good food and fun rides. Each year, thousands of people attend the event, and many travel over an hour from other counties. Deggeller Attractions Inc. provides the various carnival rides, while the community supplies the bulk of the food and live entertainment. From singing priests, to greasy funnel cakes, the St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival has it all.

 

Special Olympics Form Passionate Friendships Personality

The Special Olympics is defined as “A non-profit organization that provides year-round sports training to children and adults, with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Hillsborough County programs offer 17 sports to over 800 athletes, with the assistance of 75 coaches and over 1,000 volunteers throughout the year. These programs are free to athletes.

The Special Olympics also offers various programs such as Unified Sports, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, and Healthy Athletes, which has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.

However, for Special Olympics athletes and their families, the importance of the organization goes far beyond athletic training and offered programs.

“My favorite part about Special Olympics is playing different sports, make new friends, demonstrate courage, show friendship, and most importantly, to have fun,” athlete Thomas Shervington said.

Thomas plays basketball, soccer, golf, and softball, and just became a part of the Athletes Leadership Program, where he will help spread awareness on how to get involved with the Special Olympics.

“Him being in the Special Olympics has affected our lives so greatly,” Thomas’s mother, Buffie Shervington said. “He’s not only playing sports, but able to make new friends. My son got to thrive, grow, become confident and do all the things kids do.”

“He’s just a completely different person than he was before the Special Olympics. He’s my inspiration.”