Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Events

What it's like to swim through 1.2 million balls at the Beach Tampa (w/video)

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Swimming in the balls at the Beach Tampa is a core strength workout, a relaxation massage and an opportunity to not take yourself seriously.

The interactive art project opened for a three-week installation Friday at Amalie Arena. Reporters and select guests were invited to a preview two hours before it opened to the public.

The pit of 1.2 million white balls designed to look like water is the brainchild of New York design firm Snarkitecture. The balls, which Snarkitecture partners say are antimicrobial to fight germs, gradually slide off a "sandy" platform, beckoning you to get in. The whole thing is surrounded by mirrors, which makes everything appear endless.

When you recline, it's kind of surreal, a moment to contemplate your relative diminutive state on the planet. You look up at the empty seats of the venue where you've seen the Tampa Bay Lightning play, danced at major concerts, and it's like, whoa.

Then you try to stand, and your legs feel like that of a baby deer. Some child beans you with a ball and a grown man surfaces next to you like a manatee.

It's the embodiment of beauty and slapstick. And it's a lot of fun.

The exhibit can hold 499 people at a time, and it will be interesting to see how crowded it feels when full. Friday morning at less than half capacity, there was plenty of breathing room.

Signs advise resisting the urge to jump. But everyone was jumping anyway, including Tampa Bay Lightning mascot, ThunderBug, in his old-timey striped swimsuit. Children floating on inflatable sharks and watermelon inner tubes did not want to leave.

Everyone at the Amalie keeps restating the need for flexibility, to see how it goes and what needs to change. This is the first time anything like this has been attempted here.

Penny Vinik, wife of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, encountered the Beach at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. last summer. As she dangled her feet in the balls, she knew it had to come to Tampa.

HAVE A BALL: Penny Vinik dreams up an Amalie Arena full of 'Beach' balls

The Vinik Family Foundation charitable organization paid to bring it here, and tickets and parking are free. The Amalie is staggering entry in timed blocks, and holding some slots back so guests can walk up.

"It's just wonderful," said Penny Vinik Friday, sitting on one of the exhibit's white canvas beach chairs. "Everything I dreamed of and more. To see all the kids jumping in the water with their parents. There's teenagers. My son is here with his friend. It's just everything we all worked so hard for, for a year. It's here. It's so exciting."

You can buy concessions and Beach Tampa gear. You can (and should) store your stuff in the on-site lockers.

It will be the only event at the Amalie until Aug. 25. Two days later, Drake comes in concert, and the balls will then be repurposed for another exhibit somewhere else.

As for germy-squirmies, no major illnesses were reported out of the Washington, D.C., exhibit. The staff here has plans to keep it clean, and there is hand sanitizer available. But, really, it's up to you to decide your level of germ comfort.

Without question, getting out of the balls is the hardest part. Be prepared to patiently swim to the pier, never fully able to find the ground. "Lifeguards" are stationed around to rescue anyone who gets too far gone.

And if swimming is too exhausting, just do what Candace Pflum did. The Clear Channel sales representative from Tampa was there for some vigorous playtime with her 7-year-old son, Carson.

"I'm just going to sit here for a minute," she said. "It feels like a massage chair."

She kicked back with her arms behind her head, floating in a white sea.

Contact Stephanie Hayes at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.

   
Comments
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekendShoppingBlack Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. Theyíl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Meet Amazonís bawdy, opinionated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Meet Amazonís bawdy, opinionated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Miriam "Midge" Maisel seems to have it all.Itís 1958 New York City, Upper West Side, and sheís a quick-witted Jewish housewife with two kids. She and her husband live in a plush apartment just a few floors below her meddling yet endearing parents.Heí...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 24

St. Petersburg Tree Lighting: Mayor Kriseman flips the switch to illuminate the city’s Christmas tree at this celebration with live entertainment. 5 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 893-74...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin talks about his last tour

Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin talks about his last tour

As you might imagine, quite a lot of thought goes into planning your final tour ever. "It’s not a light decision to not tour again, but that really is the situation," said John McLaughlin, the guitarist behind legendary jazz-rock fusion outfit...
Published: 11/21/17
Fun things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday, Nov. 22

Fun things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday, Nov. 22

Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy gets an update by placing lovers Beatrice and Benedick against the backdrop of the Florida Keys as World War II is drawing to a close. Through Dec. 10. 7 p.m., American Stage Theatre...
Updated: 2 hours ago
10 things to do for fun in Tampa Bay on Tuesday

10 things to do for fun in Tampa Bay on Tuesday

Ice Skating at Tampa’s Winter Village: Even in Florida, you can get in the holiday spirit by ice skating on an outdoor rink in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental. Stop by the cafe for themed drinks and holiday snacks. 10 a.m...
Updated: 11 hours ago
11 fun things to do in Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving day

11 fun things to do in Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving day

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens: More than 2 million twinkling lights transform the park into a holiday wonderland with Rudolph, Sam the Snowman, Christmas-themed entertainment and visits with Santa. Included with admission on select nights through D...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 20-26

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 20-26

Thanksgiving Day races: Get those calories burning early on Thursday, so you won’t feel as guilty about that second piece of pie. The Times Turkey Trot kicks off at Clearwater High School and features a buffet of races, including the 1-mile Gob...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Holiday-themed events dot the East Hillsborough landscape

Holiday-themed events dot the East Hillsborough landscape

East Hillsborough residents will have three holiday-themed events to help brighten the season this year.Christmas Lane, the long-time holiday celebration that started on an area farm, launches another season of festivities at its current spot, the Fl...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17