Christopher Spata - General Assignment Features Reporter

General Assignment Features 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. A Cuban sandwich photographed on the banks of the Hillsborough River at the University of Tampa.
  2. Top row, from left: Keyonna Cole, Cassidy Hickey, Angel Auntunez Armario. Bottom row: Akira Blackmon, Kelly Vazquez and Phoevie Gregorio. All are missing from the Tampa Bay area and were added to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in the past year.
  3. Ralph Heath in 2005 with a brown pelican, one of 56 that went to Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary after being displaced when Hurricane Dennis swept through the Florida Panhandle.
  4. Kelly Vazquez, of Valrico, has been missing since May of 2021.
  5. Rod Wave arrives on stage during his SoulFly tour concert at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.
  6. Andrew Wilson, CEO and founder of Quiet Professionals, talks with staff while monitoring a developing situation in Afghanistan on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Tampa.
  7. Ambulances wait in the ambulance bay at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa on August 18, 2021.
  8. TransCare field operations supervisor Spencer Wynn monitors active ambulance calls and the state of local hospitals from his laptop on Aug. 18 in Tampa.
  9. Wade Abawi, a Tampa fitness trainer who left Afghanistan with his family in 1978, at an Islamic Society of Tampa Bay luncheon.
  10. People search for those who may be trapped under the earthquake rubble the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2 magnitude quake. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
  11. Cameron Herrin reacts the moment he hears his sentence — 24 years in prison — at the conclusion of his sentencing hearing on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
  12. The Burson family of Ohio looks at some of the hundreds of dead fish floating in the water as a result of Red Tide as tourists search for dolphins and other wildlife during the Pier Dolphin Cruise on Wednesday in St. Petersburg.
  13. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn drives a jet ski while holding the Stanley Cup as teammate Nikita Kucherov gestures to the crowd while celebrating the Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory with a boat parade Monday in Tampa.
  14. Michael Taylor, also known as the “The Armed Fisherman," strapped with his assault rifle and hand gun, baits his fishing line while at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach on July 2, 2021.
  15. Josh White, owner and founder of Tampa Bay Salvage, left, returns a chandelier to the Kellogg Mansion, 129 Buena Vista Dr. S, on Friday, July 9, 2021, in Dunedin. The property owner, Christa Carpenter, plans to donate chandeliers, statues, light fixtures, fountains and door knobs, and the property’s statues and fountains to the city so they can auction off the pieces and use that money for future preservation projects. 
  16. John Pack, 52, fishes from the Dunedin Causeway following Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday.
  17. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite captured this view of Tropical Storm Elsa churning off the coast of west Florida early Wednesday.
  18. Steven Rossi cuts Rodney Sesler's hair at Rossi's Barbershop on U.S. 41 S in Gibsonton. Both live live in ZIP code 33534, where only 31 percent of the residents have received a coronavirus vaccine shot. Ross said he has not been vaccinated, and wasn't surprised to hear that Gibsonton is one of the least vaccinated areas in Hillsborough County. Rossi said he is a fundamentalist Christian and they're "on the fence about it." Sesler said he's see how the vaccine affects people before he gets it.
  19. Tess and Paul Silverman pose for a portrait in their Sun City Center home on June 18, 2021, days before celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary.
  20. St. Petersburg rapper Rod Wave will perform in Tampa at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
  21. The logo for the podcast "What Was That Like." The show is produced by Scott Johnson in Safety Harbor.
  22. Artist Dan Painter talks about his Tiny Town outdoor art studio in St. Petersburg on January 11, 2019.
  23. Al Nixon, 58, enjoys the sunrise from the St. Petersburg waterfront, every morning, from the same bench. He estimates that he makes it to his favorite spot 350 days out of the year. Most people walking by wave hello and Nixon greets them by name.