Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Soaking up July Fourth at St. Petersburg Pier — and with towels

Holiday revelers get a perfect view of the St. Petersburg fireworks from the observation deck at the Pier on Monday.


Holiday revelers get a perfect view of the St. Petersburg fireworks from the observation deck at the Pier on Monday.


For many, the area around the Pier was a perfect place to spend a hot, sweaty Fourth of July. A steady stream of people — from teens with their arms around each other to fishermen in crushed hats to a bicyclist with a beagle in the basket — traipsed up and down the approach to the Pier. Some, like Gary Lambdin and Leslie Coop of Arkansas, saw the Pier as one stop on a journey. The two had already visited the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center and the Museum of Fine Arts and wanted to visit the Dalí Museum. They said they'd come to the Pier by following the crowd.

They were aiming to stay for the 9 p.m. fireworks, Lambdin said, but weren't sure they'd make it because they "never do."

Belinda Fair of Georgia said she was also hoping to hang around long enough to see the fireworks with her two sons, Austyn, 8, and Delon, 6.

"My dad said this was the best spot to go watch fireworks and everything," Fair said.

As the 9 p.m. start-time drew near, traffic picked up and parking near the Pier and Straub Park became scarce — leaving latecomers with hikes of 10 blocks or more.

Erica Shepherd and her three daughters, ages 3, 5 and 6, of St. Petersburg, deliberately parked several blocks away — around Fourth Street N and Second Avenue. Once the fireworks were over, she said, "we're going to check out the crowd" without having to worry about parking. As for the fireworks themselves, Shepherd said, "I think they were great. A good time with the family."

Austin Reale, 18, of Seminole, watched the fireworks from the entrance to the Pier. They were pretty good, he said, and there seemed to be more of them than in past years.

Others chose to celebrate the Fourth in a slightly different way.

At the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach, dozens of children and families gathered around a 60-foot by 100-foot flag mosaic made entirely of towels.

The red, white and blue towels — more than 1,000 of them — are laid out in the shape of the original Betsy Ross flag. Groups of children then become the "stars" of the event and the flag by forming a circle and posing with star-shaped cutouts on their heads to represent the 13 original Colonies.

Ohio residents Dana and Sean Stoll, who were vacationing at the hotel on Monday, wanted their two young daughters to see the flag up close.

Then someone asked 4-year-old Ruari, who was dressed in a red T-shirt that said "America's sweetheart," and a sparkly skirt, if she wanted to be a "star."

"She was so excited," Dana Stoll said, smiling. "We're from a small town, so we have a red, white and boom celebration, but it's nothing like down here."

The towel flag project has become a July 4 tradition at the TradeWinds. Laundry crews began dyeing the towels two months ago in preparation.

The project is the brainchild of Bob McManaway, the hotel's director of plant operations and support services.

"I thought there had to be a way for those in plant operations to celebrate too," said. McManaway, 63, a retired Air Force captain, "This was our contribution."

Soaking up July Fourth at St. Petersburg Pier — and with towels 07/04/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 4, 2011 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.