ST. PETERSBURG ó Letís not pretend like you havenít seen it and wondered whatís going on with Mayor Rick Krisemanís beard. He has let his hair grow ever since the election in November ó the end to a long, expensive and often nasty campaign.
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Perhaps the mayor was just tired and wanted to relax. Maybe he was prepping for the Florida winter, which thus far has proven to be kind-of, sort-of, actually pretty chilly (at times). Or was he just gearing up for a new year and second term with a new version of himself? Changing it up. Trying out something new.
Rest assured, we asked. Hereís our appropriately trimmed interview with the mayor.
Whatís up with the beard, man?
So for the last, I donít know how many years, every wintertime, typically, I have grown a goatee or a beard or something like that. I kind of this year started a little earlier right after the election. I normally donít do this until mid- to late-December ... It wasnít for No Shave November, it just happened to coincide with that.
Whenís the last time you had a beard?
I think I grew a full one last year, too, but for whatever reason this one seems to have come in better. Certainly the response has been better this time.
What has the response been?
Iíve been quite honestly shocked by the attention this beard has received. It seems to have a life of its own. It actually has been very good, people have said it fits my face very well.
Important ó does your wife like it?
She does. She has not in the past liked the beard or the goatee, but this year she likes it, says it looks good. I keep it trimmed pretty close.
Also important ó is it itchy?
It was when it was first coming in before I really started getting more used to it. And I think the fact that itís cooler, and the weatherís colder, that helps.
Right. Itís super cold today. Does the beard make you warmer?
I was up north for a little bit over the holidays and it was pretty doggone cold, and I think it certainly helped. I didnít need to have the full face mask on.
You have your natural face mask.
What kind of products do you use?
I actually donít use any. Some guys I think like the beards that go up their face a little more, down their neck a little more. I donít.
Itís a salt-and-pepper beard. Are you leaning into the gray? Does it worry you?
I actually think it works and thatís part of the reason people like it ... Quite frankly, what I noticed to is that both my hair and the beard, certainly from when I grew it a year ago, but theyíre both considerably grayer today than they were four or five months ago.
Ah, yes, the campaign season. Is it to blame?
It certainly is entirely possible.
Your mayoral opponent memorably tried to corral the youth vote. Are you trying to bring millennials back with the beard?
Given the amount of gray thatís in my beard, I donít know if that makes it appeal to a younger crowd. But St. Pete has kind of become a beard town. Thereís a lot of cool beards that you can see there walking around town.
I heard youíre reviewing the police beard policy (patrol officers are not allowed more than a mustache). Will we see more beards around the city?
Iím just trying to see what the overall policy is. Honestly we look at a lot of our policies related to public safety ó police and fire ó from the recruiting standpoint to make sure we donít have policies that make it harder for us to recruit good people.
So is your beard here to stay?
I honestly donít know. Iíll probably keep it until I get bored with it or just donít like the way it looks anymore.
Contact Zachary T. Sampson at [email protected] of (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.