Christopher Spata - Culture Reporter

Culture Reporter

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. Tegu blanco y negro exhibido en 2015 en una Universidad de Johanesburgo. [DENIS FARRELL  |  AP]
  2. A black and white Argentine Tegu lizard sticks out its tongue at the Yebo Gogga exhibition at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 2015. [DENIS FARRELL  |  AP]
  3. Abby McAuley, 10, continues the practice of drawing inspirational quotes using chalk on her driveway on May 19, 2020, in Spring Hill. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
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  5. Customers shop for comics, artwork, memorabilia and apparel at the Tampa Bay Comic Convention in 2019.
  6. Mike Torres holds a metal object he claims to have discovered on Melbourne Beach. The photo ran on the front page of Florida Today in January 2019. [MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY]
  7. Allison Harris waits on customers at Baba Friday, May 8, 2020 in St. Petersburg, FL.  Harris wore a mask the first day the restaurant opened and refrained from giving hugs to the regulars.  "I really like to hug my friends and customers that I've known forever, so that's huge for me."  [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
  8. Jojo, a 14-year-old pomeranian, at home in Las Vegas. [Courtesy of Mayte Garcia]
  9. The Gabber newspaper, based in Gulfport, covers the waterfront town as well as southern Pinellas County. [CATHY SALUSTRI                        |  Courtesy of Cathy Salustri]
  10. Aerial view of an empty parking lot of the Westfield Brandon mall due to COVID-19 closures pictured on Thursday, April 9, 2020 in Brandon.  [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  11. Bill Nesmith seen with his girlfriend Joan Gee at their home in Largo. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  12. Scruffy, a cat that was being forstered by a St. Francis Society volunteer, seen in her new home. [Courtesy of St. Francis Society]
  13. Jimmy Fallon, shown here during the March 30, 2020 episode of 'The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,' has been broadcasting from home during the coronavirus pandemic. [NBC]
  14. Pinellas County Sheriff deputies stand guard near Gandy Beach as on Saturday, April 4, 2020 in Tampa. Last weekend dozens of vehicles flocked to the beach despite the safer at home order. [LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  15. Part of the Florida Social Distancing Neighborhood Bingo Scavenger Hunt bingo board. [Tampa Bay Times; Associated Press; Uber, Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association]
  16. Happiness coach Silvia Mordini on a recent trip to Bali, Indonesia. [ULRIKE REINHOLD PHOTOGRAPHY  |  Courtesy of Silvia Mordini]
  17. Ellis Adams winces as he struggles to escape Marcus Davis' hold while wrestling in the advanced class at Tampa Bay Pro Wrestling's Lethal Academy on March 5, 2020 in Pinellas Park. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  18. Drew McIntyre will wrestle for the WWE championship at WrestleMania this weekend. The event originally was scheduled for Tampa, but due to the current pandemic will be streamed from a closed set in Orlando. [WWE]
  19. Carol Lewis, now known as Carole Baskin, left, and Don Lewis, her husband who disappeared, both seen in 1997, the year Don Lewis disappeared. [Tampa Bay Times]
  20. A newspaper clipping from the Tampa Bay Times, then named the St. Petersburg Times, from Aug. 31, 1998 featuring a story on Don Lewis. [Tampa Bay Times]
  21. A newspaper clipping from the Tampa Bay Times, then named the St. Petersburg Times, from Aug. 31, 1998 featuring a story on Don Lewis. [Tampa Bay Times]
  22. Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin walks the property in Tampa in 2017. With the release of the Netflix documentary "Tiger King," old speculations about her husband's disappearance have reemerged. [Times (2017)]
  23. The scene at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg on Tuesday as people continued to gather, some at a distance. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  24. Mike Calta talked in depth about the Hulk Hogan lawsuit for the first time Monday on 102.5-FM. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]