There is pride and excitement across Tampa Bay as the region hosts the Bollywood Oscars for the very first time on American soil. To the biggest stars and fans of Hindi cinema: Welcome as you gather to honor the best in the industry. This is a moment of maturity for Tampa Bay and an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to reintroduce themselves to a larger global audience.
The awe of celebrity has grown rich in recent days as stars have jetted into Tampa International Airport in advance of Saturday's awards ceremony. But the pulse and dazzle of Indian culture are already playing out about town, including at Wednesday night's Stomp at Curtis Hixon Park, where throngs of people danced to Indian music in the open-air, waterfront park.
The rise of Indian cinema's global appeal comes as the Tampa Bay area reaches to farther horizons. The airport's new international flights, the growth of area universities, the port's bid to expand global trade and the new overseas business opportunities originating here and abroad all speak to where this region sees its future headed.
The bay area's rich heritage of Latin culture is still very much alive, and Bollywood guests should take in the architecture and food of Ybor City and Tampa's other older neighborhoods. This event ranks with the grandest the area has hosted. Local political and civic leaders gave this region a boost by working to bring Bollywood here. This is a week to celebrate and to build on our new cultural connection.