We asked you to send us your favorite memories of the beach at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, and send them you did. Though the beach closed more than two weeks ago, your stories keep flooding into the St. Petersburg Times. You've sent us tales about quiet times shared with loved ones, marriage proposals at sunset and storms blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico. Here's a smattering of the stories you've sent us in recent weeks. Rita Farlow, Times staff writer Manny Soler took this sunset photo in fall 2004, a few months after he moved with his wife, Clare, to Tarpon Springs from Long Island, N.Y. Soler said he was looking for some artwork to decorate their new townhome, so he snapped some pictures and had them enlarged to poster size. "The sunsets are always nice down there," he said. "These were just random shots."
FROM Sophia Konstantin- Spanolios, tarpon springs: My favorite memories of Howard Park Beach are taking my son, Niko Spanolios (above) for walks in the early morning, playing in the seaweed, flying kites and just hanging out. We've been taking him there since he was born. Niko, now 4 years old, still enjoys the same activities, including chasing the seagulls and trying to catch minnows.
From Lisa Reider Bott, palm harbor:
Last year my daughter was in her first year at Tarpon Springs Middle School, a big change from elementary school! Thursday mornings I would tutor math students at the middle school, then I would take my daughter to lunch at Fred Howard Park, just across the street from Tarpon Springs Middle.
We barely had half an hour, but we spent it at the beach at Fred Howard, sometimes out on the island, and sometimes inland at the picnic areas. We both packed a lunch. There was a squirrel with half a tail that hung around, and we nicknamed him "Squirrel Nutkin" after the Beatrix Potter story.
Nikki would eat really fast, then climb up and down the beach looking at shells, rocks and birds. It was so calm and peaceful, we would watch the water and the birds and the jumping fish.
I will miss these lunches with her. By the time they finish construction at Fred Howard Park, Nikki will be finished with Tarpon Springs Middle School.
Somehow lunch won't be the same anywhere else.
From Nate Patterson Jr., Tarpon Springs:
I came as a visitor to Tarpon Springs from Los Angeles in 2005. One morning we walked down Florida Avenue and I was told that there was a beautiful beach and park at the end of the street. Coming from L.A., I doubted it.
But after a walk through the park and arriving at the beachhead I found a jewel. … I now reside in Tarpon Springs and try to walk through the park down to the beach a few times per week. I love Fred Howard Park; it is serene, lovely and a great place to watch nature as it should be. It is my respite from L.A.
I love the seasons, the birds along the beachhead, the locals that I met early in the morning and the employees are nice.
I will have to shorten my walk during reconstruction, but I will not miss any days.
from dolores Wilson, Tarpon Springs:
In the early 1990s I was visiting relatives who lived in Seminole.
On my way back to our daughter's house in Lutz-Land O'Lakes, I decided to follow Alternate 19, hoping to get another glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico, when I saw a sign that said Howard Park.
I followed the signs and found paradise. Winding back around the park and bayou, letting the car guide me, I didn't even know what city I was in until I reached the center and saw a sign saying Tarpon Springs.
When we decided to move from Massachusetts to Florida several years later, of course I chose Tarpon Springs … or did Tarpon Springs choose me?