Sharon Kennedy Wynne - Events, Family and Travel reporter

Events, Family and Travel reporter

I’m an editor who writes, or maybe a writer who edits. I spend time poring over hundreds of events and fun diversions in the Tampa Bay area. I used to cover City Hall and now I ride rollercoasters on a workday. But I view this as a consumer beat. I’m looking for deals and I intend to call out what’s lame or magical. I’m a lifelong St. Petersburg resident and University of Florida grad. I cut my teeth covering politics for the Fort Myers News-Press, where a county commissioner I investigated went to jail. I joined my hometown Times in 1994 where my love of pop culture led me to tbt* and now our features team. Send me a tip when you see something fun.

  1. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will open Iron Gwazi, the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster, for passholder previews Feb. 11 and will officially open March 11.
  2. Construction is underway, including two new rides in the background, at Adventure Island in Tampa. The park is undergoing its biggest enhancement in 30 years.
  3. The Tampa Sports Authority announced it is bringing the Tampa Taco and Margarita Festival to Raymond James Stadium on March 12. But Tampa organizers say they have learned from the past mistakes of the event's promoter and are taking measures to control the event.
  4. Jack Timmel, 34, and his father, John Timmel, 65, who are licensed harbor pilots, serve as the sail masters for the "Jose Gasparilla" pirate ship that leads a flotilla of private boats into downtown Tampa before its signature parade. They are standing in the elevated perch that the captains use on the ship, which was built in 1954 for the festival.
  5. Young revelers yell for beads at the 2020 Children's Gasparilla parade in Tampa. The parade was canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19.
  6. The Jolley Trolley, shown here on Mandalay Avenue on Clearwater Beach, will become the Jolley Roger Trolley for free rides to the Children's Gasparilla Parade on Jan. 22.
  7. Fans hangout at Buc's Beach prior to a NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 9. The team will hand out free swag to fans on Friday morning to get ready for Sunday's playoff game against the Eagles.
  8. Shoppers browse booths at the 2021 Localtopia in Williams Park in St. Petersburg, when crowd capacity was limited. The festival will be back with more than 300 vendors when it returns Feb. 12.
  9. Busch Gardens in Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando are bringing back the popular Preschool Card, letting kids 5 and younger in the theme parks for free in 2022. But you need to go online and register soon.
  10. Performer Hector Pazaran performs a futuristic act for Cirque Italia's new "traveling water circus" that will premiere in Brandon and Wesley Chapel.
  11. ZooTampa has rescued a total of 500 manatees since the opening of its manatee critical care center
  12. Guests stroll along Main Street at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. All four theme parks at Walt Disney World have reached maximum capacity today and New Year's Eve, according to Disney's website.
  13. Traditional dancers will be part of the Russian New Year celebration organized by the Russian Heritage Organization. It will be held on Jan. 8 at the TradeWinds Island Resort in St. Pete Beach.
  14. New Years Eve fireworks light up the sky off Clearwater Beach in 2018.
  15. At Busch Gardens in Tampa, a slick steel track is combined with the footprint of the old wooden Gwazi coaster to make Iron Gwazi, North America's tallest hybrid coaster. It will open in March 2022, two years after it was originally slated to debut.
  16. ICON Park in Orlando in recent years had added a number of tall rides including StarFlyer, left, a record-breaking swing ride. This week it opened Orlando Slingshot and Orlando FreeFall, shown to the right.
  17. Jobsite Theater actors at the Straz Center for Performing Arts, shown here in a scene from April's production of Shakespeare's "Henry V," have postponed their production of "Romeo & Juliet" by a week. A member of the company who is vaccinated for COVID-19 and is asymptomatic tested positive.
  18. Snow Days have returned to the Florida Aquarium. The snow play area set up in the week after Christmas is included with admission. New this year, kids can launch snowballs off the Aquarium’s TECO Deck.
  19. Enchant Christmas en el Tropicana Field se anuncia como el mayor laberinto navideño del mundo, contará con un laberinto de luces, un mercado navideño, una pista de patinaje sobre hielo y Santa y la Sra. Claus. Foto cortesía de Enchant Christmas.
  20. A float and a balloon in the Holiday Parade during a nighttime preview event of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's.
  21. Enchant Christmas at Tropicana Field returns Nov. 26, turning the baseball field into a massive holiday winter wonderland.
  22. Mitchell Graham Hines of Apopka was named the winner of Morgan & Morgan's $100,000 jingle contest. Representatives from the law firm surprised Hines with an oversized check at his job in in Altamonte Springs.
  23. Guests get an early start at the Winter Village ice skating rink at Curtis Hixon Park on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 in Tampa.