Make us your home page

Businessmen want world to know: Clearwater Beach is oil-free

Ken Lucci, left, and Brian J. Reese fill buckets Wednesday with sugary soft sand from Clearwater Beach. They plan to fill bottles with sand to send to event planners, letting them know Clearwater is fine and open for business.


Ken Lucci, left, and Brian J. Reese fill buckets Wednesday with sugary soft sand from Clearwater Beach. They plan to fill bottles with sand to send to event planners, letting them know Clearwater is fine and open for business.

CLEARWATER — Two men in dark suits strolled onto Clearwater Beach on Wednesday and dug up some of the pristine white sugar sand.

They weren't looking for globs of oil. They were looking to make a point.

Ken Lucci said his company, Ambassador Limousine, just lost $20,000 worth of business when an event planner he works with canceled a September convention of accountants and estate planners at Clearwater Beach because of oil spill fears.

"It was going to be two nights, 125 people, with a golf outing," Lucci said. "She called today and said, 'We're not coming down. We're going to go to Savannah instead because we're afraid of the oil.' "

That's how Lucci and one of his drivers, Brian J. Reese, ended up shoveling sand into a couple of the 5-gallon wash buckets they use to clean limos.

Lucci wants to send a message. He plans to mail little bottles of clean white sand to 50 event planners around the country to show them that the beach here is unspoiled. He'll also send samples to Fox News and CNN.

"You and I know that we're eight hours away from Pensacola. But the headlines and the snippets of TV footage just say, 'Oil hits Florida beaches,' " Lucci said. "Look at this sugar sand. It's business as usual here, but word's not getting out."

Just one man and one business. But his concerns are echoed by the entire Tampa Bay tourism and restaurant industry.

Business people fear that the BP oil spill is scaring away visitors who think all Florida beaches are covered in tar.

The men in suits sweated as they shoveled the sand. It was a hot, sunny day. People in bathing suits frolicked at the water's edge.

Former Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst came out to watch. He's planning another offshore power boat race for early October. Aungst is hearing a lot of worries from his friends in the tourism industry. They fear that European visitors won't come this summer.

"Clearwater Beach is still as pristine as it ever was," he said. "We're open for business, and we're ready to roll out the red carpet."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

.Fast facts

Seminar on oil spill damages

The Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery group will hold an informational seminar for businesses and community leaders at 5:30 p.m. today at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater, 310 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater.

Legal, financial and environmental experts will provide updates on business' rights and the types of damages they can recover.

For more information, visit or call toll-free 1-888- 508-3423.

Businessmen want world to know: Clearwater Beach is oil-free 06/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  2. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  3. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower


    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]
  4. Good news: Tampa Bay no longer a major foreclosure capital of the country

    Real Estate

    Once in the top five nationally for foreclosure filings, the Tampa Bay area no longer makes even the top 25.

    A few short years ago, Tampa Bay was a national hub for foreclosures. Not any more. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]
  5. Tampa-based start-up takes on Airbnb by promoting inclusion, diversity


    NEW TAMPA — Last May, Rohan Gilkes attempted to book a property in Idaho on the home-sharing platform Airbnb. After two failed attempts, the African-American entrepreneur asked a white friend to try, and she was "instantly" approved for the same property and dates.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. Rohan Gilkes, the founder, said he created the organization after several negative experiences with Airbnb.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]