Ybor City: History Made Fun

Ybor City: History Made Fun

Ybor City: History Made Fun

By Kai Rambow

 

Did you know that: (1) Tampa’s population exploded from 700 to over 7,000 in a year; (2) Tampa was the cigar capital of the world; (3) Tampa was the first place with universal health care? It all started in Ybor City, and you can learn all kinds of things presented in a fun way on a walking tour.

“This is my hometown. It’s so much fun to learn about Tampa’s history,” commented one woman on the tour. A little later, two men debated what was worse in the beginning: the alligators, mosquitos, or heat and humidity. A walking tour, led by Max Herman, was engaging, entertaining and fun.

Vincente Martinez-Ybor transformed Tampa into a real town. Herman has the ability to share history in a fun way. Facts are only important to help the story of Ybor City/Tampa. The stories on tour kept everyone paying attention. While experienced Cubans came here to work, so too did Italians, Germans, and other immigrant groups. Each group built their own social halls (part of the tour) to celebrate and maintain cultural traditions. These social groups also created the first universal health for their members.

 

Background Preparation

A great way to start your tour is a quick visit to the state museum. A short video provides a great overview of Ybor City’s development. Displays in the museum highlight important milestones, complete with historic pictures. This is a great way to get a foundation before taking the tour. Unfortunately, the casita showing original homes in Ybor, is currently unavailable to visitors.

 

The Columbia Restaurant

After the tour, you’ll be hungry. You can continue the history by eating at the 110 year old Columbia restaurant. Cuban bread and the sandwich were invented in Ybor. Their Cuban sandwich is unique because it has salami (remember the Italian immigrants) making a hearty meal. It is the original.  You can order the half-and-half special. You might want to try their famous 1905 salad (created in the 1970s) and Cuban sandwich. Incidentally, the Cuban bread comes from La Segunda Bakery, also in Ybor, and 100 years old.

 Tips: You might want to drive from the garage (see itinerary and parking below) to here as it is a few blocks away.  There is plenty of parking in the back. Be sure to look at the beautiful Spanish tiles on the front of the building. 

 

Cuban Cigars Still Made Here

Tabanero Cigars loves having visitors, even if you don’t smoke. I am not a smoker, but I do know which end of the cigar to dip in brandy. Since Tabanero is a boutique cigar store you can see everything up close, and you are welcome to take pictures.  There is a coffee bar towards the back with great Cuban coffee. 

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Suggested Itinerary:  Arrive at 9 and visit the state museum park. Move car to parking garage around 10:30 a.m. Stop by Tabanero Cigars take some pictures and have a Cuban coffee. Walk across the street and take the historic walking tour with Max (be sure to make reservations) at 11 a.m. After tour head to the Columbia for lunch.

What to Wear: Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen ,and sunglasses are important. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you as well. Note: Herman knows all the shady spots to stop while on tour. 

Where to Park: Street parking is only good for two hours. If you park in the garage on 15th Street, you won’t need to worry about time and it’s only one dollar per hour. From the garage it is a short walk to the meeting spot for the tour.

Ybor City Historic Walking Tours

Max Herman

(813) 505-6779

www.YborWalkingTours.com

Ybor City State Museum

1818 E 9th Avenue

Wednesdays-Sundays; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Columbia Restaurant

2117 E. 7th Avenue

Tampa, Florida  33605

(813)  248-4961

www.columbiarestaurant.com

Tabanero Cigars

(Cuban coffee)

1601 E. 7th Avenue

Tampa, Florida  33605

(813) 402-6316

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

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2021 Renaissance Festival Fun For All Ages

2021 Renaissance Festival Fun For All Ages

After COVID-19 restrictions forced the 2020 Bay Area Renaissance Festival to close early last season and shuttered many shows across the country for the past year, the theme for the 2021 Bay Area Renaissance Festival was, “We can’t wait to celebrate!”

This was a sentiment expressed by patrons, “playtrons,” vendors, and cast members alike, as many of the traveling cast sat home last year, waiting, hoping, and, indeed, praying for the pandemic threat to be mitigated.

Standing atop a neatly stacked tower of chairs, preparing to juggle fire, one of the fan-favorite returning performers, Ichabod Wainwright, daredevil master of the “Wheel of Death,” expressed that eager sentiment this way: “When there’s a pandemic happening, and your job description is ‘gather people close together in large groups and encourage them to scream,’ well… you’re fired.”

Wainwright was not the only Festival performer excited to be back on stage. It’s been more than a year since the color-coded tumblers Acrobellum performed their signature mix of slapstick humor and awe-inducing acrobatics for a live audience. The troupe was clearly excited to be back dazzling audiences with their feats of skill, strength, and agility.

All across the Festival grounds, guests browsed wares offered by more than 100 artisans; cheered brave knights and high-flying daredevils; tapped and clapped to live music; shared bawdy belly laughs with washerwomen, escape artists, and muddy thespians; met unicorns and mermaids; rode elephants, and indulged in the signature mix of fun, fantasy, artistic excellence, athletic prowess, and mead-flavored frivolity that makes a Renaissance Festival an annual must-go for millions across the country.

After last year’s program was cut short, this year’s Festival almost didn’t happen at all. To make good on that old theater truism, “The show must go on!”, organizers had to secure a new location, contract vendors and performers, then get the word out to faithful fans and new patrons alike. They did. Fans flocked to the temporary new digs at Withlacoochee River Park near Dade City. Sure, it looked and felt a little different, but the show did “go on,” and countless thousands were once again happily transported back in time to a magical, mystical, whimsical, and memorable rendering of the Renaissance.

PHOTOS

“Lady Rayka” (Rosalie Purvis) from the Equus Nobilis Joust company gallops into position to make another pass. (Photo by Adam Porter)

Acrobellum’s “Teal” and “Red” perform as “Pink” (and the audience) cheer them on. (Photo by Adam Porter)

A couple who came ready for Festival fun. Vendors and visitors alike wore outrageously colorful and imaginative costumes. (Photo by Bob Sanchez)

Everyone smiled at the Festival, including the pretty pickle purveyor. (Photo by Bob Sanchez)

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

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In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

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Getting Wet in the Dry Tortugas

Getting Wet in the Dry Tortugas

Getting Wet in the Dry Tortugas

By Kai Rambow

 

Key West may be the end of the road, but you can head 70 miles farther west by taking the ferry to the Dry Tortugas. People love taking this day trip. It is a national park, so that means it’s on many people’s bucket list. There are several other reasons for taking this excursion. It’s remote, so you can get away from it all. It’s historic with a ginormous fort. It’s scenic surrounded by clear, beautiful blue water. And it’s fun, with opportunities to explore the fort, swim and snorkel.

 

Ft. Jefferson

This huge fort covering 16 acres has a rich history. park rangers offer guided tours. If you love interesting history, it’s worth taking the tour so you know what you’re seeing.

 

Snorkeling

There are several spots to go swimming and snorkelling.  Explanations about the different water spots are given during the ferry ride.  The snorkeling is more fun than spectacular.  Clear blue waters will evoke Caribbean feelings.  There are places to rinse off and change clothes near the dock.

 

Tips for a Great Trip

 

Weather

Surprisingly rough seas frequently occur during the winter; calmer waters prevail during the summer.  This trip can be great, but it’s expensive.  One couple took the ferry in the winter and almost everyone was seasick.  They were given a voucher to purchase another trip at 50 percent off.  Recommendation is to check the marine forecast first for Dry Tortugas, not Key West, then check the marine forecast between Key West and Dry Tortugas. If conditions look good, then book your ticket.

 

What to Bring

The ferry’s website provides very good information on almost all aspects of the trip.  Since this is an all-day excursion consider packing the following: comfortable footwear, light jacket, towel, bathing suit, change of clothes, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera and possibly something to read.

 

Itinerary

The ferry is a comfortable, fast catamaran with indoor and outdoor seating. Breakfast and lunch are included. Snorkeling equipment, entrance fee for Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson is also included.

Check in time is at 7 a.m. Once you check in, you’re issued a boarding pass, so if you’d like to select a really good seat it’s a good idea to arrive a little early.  Boarding begins at 7:30 and the ferry departs at 8.

Tip:  Crew will tell you that breakfast will be available for some time, so no need to rush.  Breakfast is only available for one hour and once out of a food item, such as fresh fruit, there were no replacements. Recommend you line up and get breakfast early.

The ride is a little over two hours with scenic views leaving Key West, possible dolphin sightings halfway and lovely views approaching Ft. Jefferson.

The ferry arrives at approximately 10:15. Most passengers will disembark and get outfitted with snorkeling equipment. The Fort Jefferson tour starts at 11 and takes almost an hour. It is possible to tour the fort and snorkel after, but a little planning is required.

Tip:  Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. right in the middle of all these activities.  It’s a similar situation to breakfast with the best items available until gone. You can tour the fort, and, if you eat right after, you should still have a good selection.

After lunch, you will still have time to go swimming or snorkeling, as the boat leaves at 3 p.m. Passengers will start to board at 2:30, a return a little earlier will beat the crowds for showers, clothing changes and seats. It’s a full day and many passengers slept on the return trip, arriving refreshed in Key West by 5:30 p.m.

 

Dry Tortugas National Park

www.nps.gov/drto

 

Dry Tortugas Ferry

www.drytortugas.com

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

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Blossoms of Asia at Selby Gardens

Blossoms of Asia at Selby Gardens

Blossoms of Asia at Selby Gardens

By Kai Rambow

 

Stunningly beautiful with seemingly infinite varieties, orchids fascinate even people who don’t pay much attention to flowers.  Selby Gardens does a tremendous job of creating thematic displays showcasing orchids.

Blossoms of Asia showcases Asian orchids in a Japanese inspired setting in the conservatory.  Note: The bamboo and many other materials were harvested on the grounds. The beauty of the flowers is intoxicating; the calming effect of the Zen-like landscape garden is relaxing. It’s a wonderful, ascetic combination.

The Payne Mansion, once again, hosts part of the exhibition. Fabulously colored pages from old botanical reference guides are displayed.  Resplendent Japanese woodblock prints and paintings on vellum are also visually entrancing.  This should be of particular interest to any artists or craft enthusiasts.  Tip: Recommend catching a docent led tour in the mansion to learn more about the displays here.

Selby Gardens is a worthwhile destination and an especially rewarding one during their special themed displays. Blossoms of Asia runs until December 1.

Trip Tip: Mornings and weekdays should give you cooler temperatures and fewer people.  An early time will also give you the opportunity to revisit your favorite display before leaving.

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

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A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

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The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

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For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

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Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Fun Train Robbery?

Fun Train Robbery?

Fun Train Robbery?

By Kai Rambow

 

There was a lull in the shooting; both sides were out of bullets. “Keep talking while I’m reloading,” instructed the sheriff to the bad guy. This is just one of the fun moments during the Hole in the Head Gang – Train Robbery.

The Florida Railroad Museum has a knack for not just taking passengers on a train ride, but creating memorable experiences.  Adults were just as enthused, maybe more so, than kids to get their picture taken with a cast of characters.

The first set of dates will be at the end of this month.  Events at the Railroad Museum are very popular and sell out quickly.  So, if you’d like to do this, get your tickets early.

 

Hole in the Head Gang Train Robbery

November 30, December 1

Florida Railroad Museum

12210 83rd Street East

Parrish, FL 

(941) 776-0906

www.frrm.org 

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

By Kai Rambow

 

“Heading up to see the puffins, are you?” asked the construction worker.  She continued with a strong Newfoundland accent, “I’ve lived all my 61 years in this bay area, never knew about the puffins.  I kept wondering why all these people were coming out here.  I’ve never seen them myself.  Finally going with my boyfriend on Sunday.”

A simple question about directions turned into a funny conversation.  People are the best part of travel in Newfoundland.  While they are proud of their rich traditions, they are incredible welcoming, warm and helpful.

 

Puffins at Elliston

There are a few species of birds that generate excitement even with non-birders.  Atlantic puffins are one of them.  Even when they are just standing around, they look cute.

Puffins come ashore for a few months to breed before returning to the ocean.  Elliston is one of the few locations worldwide with relatively easy access for viewing.  The puffins apparently can be approached very closely here, although they did not the day we visited.  It was still enthralling to watch them.

Close by are traditional root cellars used to store food.  Park your car, check out the cellars, then take a short walk to see the puffins.  There are no charges to see the cellars or puffins.  After watching the puffins there are cafes and gift shops nearby.

 

Bonavista

Ten minutes away from Elliston is Bonavista.  This town of 3,400 is a relaxing place to have a bite, poke around and even stay overnight.

Drive to the lighthouse at the tip of Cape Bonavista.  You’ll see more puffins and even whales in the surrounding waters.  As you head back to Bonavista, stop at Dungeon Provincial Park.  It’s a short, scenic drive.  Rocky shores with clear waters dominate the views throughout the island.  As you drive through Newfoundland, you’ll clearly see how it earned its nickname, “the Rock.”

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Stop for Gas:  There are sizeable stretches of road, even on the Trans-Canada highway, without facilities or gas stations.  Any time there is a stop with gas/facilities, take advantage of it.  We stopped for gas and food at the Tim Horton’s in Clarenville, and topped the tank again in Bonavista. 

Drive Times and Stays:  It will take about 3 hours 30 minutes from St. John’s to Bonavista.  For a more relaxed pace, you might want to stay overnight here.  Remember Bonavista is a small town with a limited number of sleeping accommodations.  Be sure to book in advance.  The drive from Bonavista to the next recommended stop Gander is 2 hours 45 minutes.

If you have a tighter schedule and are more energetic, you can leave St. John’s, drive to Bonavista, do activities and still reach Gander comfortably.  In the summer, the sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and sets around 8:45 p.m.  You’ll have plenty of daylight on good roads.

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

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JUNE 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Celebrate Earth Day, enjoy local wildlife, get updates on the upcoming Entertainment Series, learn about a benefit event for local pets, go back in time to a wacky and wonderful rendition of the Renaissance, experience turning...

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Kings Point Garden Club Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

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JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

JULY 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Mark your calendars for the SCC 4th of July Fun Day, read about an Important Update from the SCCCA Board, learn What’s New at the SCC library, cookout with the Multi-Cultural Heritage Club, Get Off The Couch with the...

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking Event

A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

SCC Celebrates Earth Day

The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

For the Birds?

For the Birds?

For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders

Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...