Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Gulfport grieves old cedar shade tree after tornado

RECOMMENDED READING


Some say it's older than the city itself. Others aren't so sure.

Before it became a celebrated storm casualty on June 6, the old cedar in front of Yummy's at 2914 Beach Blvd. in Gulfport stood tall to the sky for decades, provided shady relief from summer's heat, and offered the perfect vantage point for parades.

The spreading cedar fell victim to a brief tornado that tore through the town on a Thursday morning. The strong wind broke off several large branches, dropping a few on the north corner of Yummy's, crushing the front porch and smashing furniture.

The mangled cedar has since been trimmed, leaving a large trunk, sawed-off limbs and one large branch intact, pointing north.

"That tree, among all the trees along Beach Boulevard, has been the most beloved," said Daniel Hodges, former manager of the Gulfport Fresh Market. "More people focus on that tree than any other, especially during the (twice monthly) Art Walks.

"I remember a lot of kids rope-climbing that tree, too," he said. So do others.

Gulfport's former mayor, Mike Yakes, remembers bringing his grandkids to the tree when it was filled with pulleys and ropes for climbing.

"They loved hanging out in that tree,'' he said. "It was pretty special to them."

Kristen Bohlander came from St. Petersburg to take photos of the damaged old cedar for her kids.

"When my son Evan heard about the tree, he was very sad and wanted to come see it," she said. Evan played around the tree for several years while his 13-year-old sister, Mya, performed onstage at the Art Village Courtyard where Yummy's is.

"We used to play hide-and-seek, and toss balls through the branches," he said. "I like that tree. I'm going to miss the shade."

He's not the only one who will miss the shade of the storm-damaged cedar. Jason Webb, owner of Kilpatrick Produce, benefited from the cedar's large branches as he sold fruits and vegetables at Gulfport's farmers market.

"Normally we set up about eight tents," he said. "Without the shade, we just set up a few more. But it's a big loss for sure."

Yummy's co-owner Richard Reale feels perhaps the greatest loss.

"That tree has been captured in so many photographs over the years," he said. It became a landmark of sorts. But now, he lamented: "The tornado definitely changed the landscape."

All is not lost, however. At least one tree specialist believes, with a little help, the old cedar will survive.

St. Petersburg's John Bolender, an internationally certified arborist, worked on the tree 25 years ago and he said that as long as there's wood and green remaining, there's hope. He also suggested it may need an injection to ensure its longevity.

"I'll do everything I can to preserve that old shade tree," he said. "If I were that tree, I'd want someone to give me a shot."

For some, the tree symbolized something special about Gulfport itself.

"I always felt the tree welcomed people to downtown Gulfport," Yakes said. "I'm sure seeing the storm's aftermath affects some of us deeply. But at the same time it reminds us that we could have fared much worse.

"I'm hopeful Mother Nature lets that tree grow back," he said.

Diane Craig can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments

Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Updated: 7 hours ago
No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

PHILADELPHIA — There were so many reasons for UCF coach Scott Frost to worry about his team’s focus. With a huge game against USF looming, playing an improving Temple team in a stadium where the empty seats outnumbered the filled ones by about a 3-1 ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL pla...
Updated: 8 hours ago
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.But the belief the Bucs ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

TAMPA — Can the Bucs pull off back-to-back wins with a backup quarterback? Win a game on the road for the first time this season? Politely hand the unnamed trophy for the state’s worst football team back to the Dolphins?With WR Mike Evans back from h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher longed for his team to play in this type of game throughout its disappointing season.After Hurricane Irma caused a three-week layoff between FSU’s first two games, forcing it to play 11 in a row to finis...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Updated: 8 hours ago