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Christopher Spata - Features Writer

Features Writer

I'm focused on the offbeat side of life. I love stories about people pursuing unusual goals, and what drives them. I've written about retirees attending Santa Claus School, competitors at the World Sign Spinning Championships and an optician rebuilding old Chuck E. Cheese robots in his bedroom. I'm also looking for hyper-local culture stories, from tracing the global path plastic beads take to Tampa's Gasparilla festival, to pondering mysterious butt graffiti in downtown St. Pete. I also contribute to our entertainment and Things To Do coverage. I previously worked for the Tampa Tribune and Ocala Star-Banner. I'm a rare, native-born Floridian, and collect all things Floridiana, from alligator ash trays to vintage postcards for roadside attractions. I say Florida isn't "weird," just more interesting.

  1. A still image from Vice's "WTFlorida?!" episode on Paul Flart.
    Short documentaries on Floridians like hurricane headbanger Lane Pittman and Polk security guard “Paul Flart” expand their stories.
  2. An image from the poster for Magnolia Pictures' documentary "Wrinkles the Clown." The film is set for an Oct. 4 release.
    The real-life creepy clown sightings phenomenon is back in a new movie. We talked to the director.
  3. Odilon Ozare poses for a photo with his Guinness world record-setting acrylic nails at Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe in Tampa.
    The mysterious man behind the world’s tallest hat has a new world record for nails, and a nearly full-page spread in the ’Guinness World Records’ 2020 book.
  4. A vignette featuring actors that guests will encounter inside the Ghostbusters haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights 2019.
    Wait times can get long at Halloween Horror Nights. Here’s how to skip, maximize and prioritize your line time at Universal Studios Orlando’s annual Halloween attraction.
  5. Bubba "the Love Sponge" Clem has returned to the air on three Tampa Bay stations. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
    Mike “Manson” Waters left the show recently after decades working alongside Bubba.
  6. Hosts Chris and Casey Keefer, left, on their way up the Peace River in Florida with the Michael and Lauren Gattuso, center, in an episode of Travel Channel's "Code of the Wild."
    “The Real Treasure Hunters” from Sarasota will appear on ‘Expedition Unknown’ and 'Call of the Wild.’
  7. This satellite image provided by NASA from the International Space Station shows Hurricane Dorian on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.  Dorian howled over North Carolina's Outer Banks on Friday, Sept. 6, a much weaker but still dangerous version of the storm that wreaked havoc in the Bahamas, flooding homes in the low-lying ribbon of islands and throwing a scare into year-round residents who tried to tough it out.
    And what exactly are those spaghetti plots on my local news? Here’s what regular people should know about official forecasts and the National Hurricane Center.
  8. Charles Zidar, the CEO of the Museum of Archaeology, Paleontology and Science, holds a fossilized dinosaur egg, at his home in Tarpon Springs. Zidar had the egg scanned at his dentist's office, and claims the images show an embryo inside.
    It was founded by the kind of guy who brings a dinosaur egg to the dentist.
  9. The CDB Pizza sign on the front of the building will be auctioned off when CDB's Pizza closes this week.
    There’s enough of the USF hangout going up for auction to open your own pizza joint in your backyard.
  10. The Rocket Fizz store in Clearwater.
    Central Avenue’s 600 block is getting an old-school candy store.