Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Gonzmart spends $28K in bidding war for Fairyland figures, hopes to display them on Riverwalk

TAMPA — A nostalgic Tampa restaurant owner  spent nearly $30,000 on Saturday to preserve his most cherished childhood memories by buying nearly every fiberglass figure left from the Lowry Park Zoo’s old Fairyland park.

No one at the Manheim auction house expected them to cost that much. Not even the day’s star, Richard Gonzmart, 63.

"You can’t put a price on history," Gonzmart said after the bidding wars ended. "I wanted to save the figures and keep them together." 

In total, Gonzmart spent $28,300 on 11 fairy-tale scenes from the park that dazzled children when it opened in the 1950s. The only lot he didn’t buy was a group of miscellaneous figures and pieces that didn’t make up a complete scene or fairy tale.

Gonzmart came to the auction house on Saturday morning with a mission. He had already pledged to buy the figures with plans to restore and display them for free. He hopes the city will let him put them along the Riverwalk once they’re restored. If not, they will sit near the Riverwalk’s end in the grassy areas around his restaurant, Ulele.

Gonzmart  already reopened Hyde Park  favorite Goody Goody last year after it closed in 2005. Fairyland was razed in 1996 and its storybook figures were left to rot in a city warehouse near MacDill Air Force Base. In the fall, the city said it would auction them off. 

Most of the two dozen people at the auction house Saturday morning supported  Gonzmart’s plan. But two men unknown to most attendees gave Gonzmart a run, upping costs to several thousand dollars during a heated back-and-forth series of bids.

Those men bolted after the auction’s end, and auction officials would not release their names.

After Gonzmart outbid the pair for the Little Boy Blue scene at $1,300, a man in the crowd called out, "You’re not going to beat him today." 

He was right. 

Gonzmart didn’t back down when Jack and the Beanstalk hit $5,000 or Cinderella’s carriage scene made it to $8,000.

"Money means nothing," Gonzmart said.

Mario Núñez, host of the Tampa Natives Show on local cable television, came to the auction as spectator. He had hoped the city would give the figures to local historians eager to restore them, but stood behind Gonzmart’s plan. 

"This is our legacy," he said. "This is our history ... this was a magical place."

Gonzmart teared up thinking of the days he would walk the 15-acre park as a child with his grandparents, going from fairy tale to fairy tale. He said that when he looked at the figures, he could feel his grandparents still alive.

"I hope my grandkids can look back on them and think about their crazy grandfather," he said. "It was never about the money."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

   
Comments
Rays will go forth with four starters

Rays will go forth with four starters

ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks was enough for the Rays to officially ditch their three-man rotation plan.Starting Sunday, they will go forth with Yonny Chirinos as their fourth starter.Which is a five-star idea.The flaws in the three-man plan ...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Lightning-Devils: How the NHLís top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHLís top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachevís playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachevís playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bayís clinching 3-1 victory in Game 3

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bayís clinching 3-1 victory in Game 3

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Nikita Kucherovís goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

Nikita Kucherovís goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

TAMPA — After clinging to a 1-0 lead for more than two periods Saturday, the Lightning got a long-awaited cushion — and ultimately the winning goal — when Nikita Kucherov scored with 7:33 left in the final period of a 3-1 victo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

A 49-year-old woman died early Saturday in a single-car crash on State Road 580.Kristin Carlin, of New Port Richey, was driving in the eastbound lanes of SR 580 when she failed to round a curve and veered off the road near Charles Avenue, a Clearwate...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning wins 3-1, advances to the semifinals

Lightning wins 3-1, advances to the semifinals

TAMPA — The Lightning closed out its quarterfinal series against the Devils with a suffocating defensive effort.The Devils finally solved Andrei Vasilevskiy in the waning moments with goalie Cory Schneider on the bench and the Devils skati...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ĎIím not just a feel-good storyí

Shaquem Griffin: ĎIím not just a feel-good storyí

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

The first time deputies arrested Samuel Morrissey Jr., he faced charges of possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed firearm. He plead no contest in September, and the judge gave him a break by withholding adjudication. Ten days later, the 20-...
Updated: 3 hours ago