Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Hundreds gather to reminisce at St. Pete's farewell party for the Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Ciara Dibert stood under a blazing sun, her 8-month-old son, Emerson, boun­cing gently in a carrier on her back.

It was nearly 5 p.m., and Dibert, 22, had arrived at Spa Beach Park three hours earlier to make sure she got a commemorative paver from the Pier, a memento from the city's farewell party to the iconic structure.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Dibert recalls visiting the inverted pyramid with her grandmother to buy dinosaur-shaped cookies. She spent many more hours there as a teen, visiting friends at Cha Cha Coconuts.

Now the stay-at-home mom was sweating and waiting for a dark red commemorative brick paver.

"So that I have a piece of the Pier for my kids and my kids' kids," she said. "My husband tried to talk me out of it and I said you're crazy, I'm going."

After a decade of planning and four years of delays and controversy, crews started demolishing the 42-year-old Pier this week to make way for the its $46 million redevelopment — Pier Park. By February, the Pier approach and the Pier head, the area that surrounds the inverted pyramid, will be gone.

The city billed Friday's party as an official goodbye celebration, and turnout far exceeded expectations, Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

Officials estimated that about 600 people braved the heat with hopes of scoring one of 250 pavers. As music blared from nearby speakers, many jotted down memories on the back of postcards and tied them to brightly colored ribbons that fluttered in the breeze. Others reminisced for a video camera set up by the Museum of History.

Across the water, a bright orange backhoe sat motionless near the base of the party's guest of honor, a symbol of its looming fate.

"This Pier is but another chapter in the history of the city of St. Pete, and after today we start writing the next chapter as we move towards our new pier," Kriseman said, and a cheer rose up from the crowd.

Not everyone came for feel-good reminiscing. About a dozen protesters showed up carrying signs with slogans like "DESTROYING OUR HISTORY."

"We've accepted that we've lost this battle, unfortunately," said Sherry Suttrich, a member of the grass roots group Vote On the Pier that four years ago ignited a fight to save the inverted pyramid, collecting more than 20,000 signatures. A subsequent voter referendum in 2013 rejected a proposed design known as the Lens and temporarily halted plans to replace the inverted pyramid.

Standing near the front of the line for pavers were Jocelyn Jolly and her sister Allison. Their father, Blanchard Jolly, helped design the Pier with William Harvard, founder of the architecture firm Harvard Jolly.

The Jolly sisters grew up on the Pier, playing putt putt golf, watching regattas and, in later years, dining at the Colombia Restaurant. They said they came to Friday's party mostly for their father, who is now 89 and still lives in Snell Isle with his wife. The couple decided not to come to Friday's party, but Blanchard Jolly has "a great attitude" despite the destruction of a structure he designed to last far longer, Jocelyn said.

For his daughters, it's sad and eerie to see a dark spot on the water where the inverted pyramid lights once twinkled at night.

"It's iconic, so it's hard to see a part of the city be torn down," Jocelyn said, her voice catching. "But it is very rewarding knowing the design will be part of St. Pete's history forever."

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Comments
Two airmen and an object that ‘accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen’

Two airmen and an object that ‘accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen’

The following recounts an incident in 2004 that advocates of research into UFOs have said is the kind of event worthy of more investigation and that was studied by a Pentagon program that investigated UFOs. Experts caution that Earthly explanations o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Are UFOs real? A Pentagon program tried to find out

Are UFOs real? A Pentagon program tried to find out

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find. Which was how the Pentagon wanted it. For years, the program inve...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital.Deputies said the crash happened near 17928 Gunn Highway, close to the Keystone Recreation Center.The Sheriff’s O...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

TAMPA — Three firefighters were injured early Saturday morning battling a fire at a W Waters Avenue strip mall, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.Firefighters said the two-alarm blaze started in the attic of L.A. Nail Supply at 2:45 a.m. The store is in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You don’t even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what you’re talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

TAMPA — Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not win the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team. Don’t believe me? Ask Dungy. "It wasn’t. They did a great job. They took it and tweaked it," Dungy said. "The same way I got a great (Colts) tea...
Updated: 4 hours ago
She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

Two days before her 94th birthday, Juanita Fitzgerald was arrested and hauled off to jail.The Eustis woman’s crime?She was being evicted and had fallen behind on her rent, WFTV 9 News reported. Instead of vacating her home at the National Church Resi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Updated: 5 hours ago