Radio star Jack Harris to pitch Tampa City Council on a celebrity walk of fame

The Tampa Walk of Fame would honor those who have lived in the Tampa Bay area or have a strong connection to it.
“It would be a great attraction for tourists and residents,” Tampa Bay radio personality Jack Harris said of his idea for a Tampa Walk of Fame.
“It would be a great attraction for tourists and residents,” Tampa Bay radio personality Jack Harris said of his idea for a Tampa Walk of Fame. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 18, 2023

TAMPA — Jack Harris is using his hiatus from morning radio to cross off a few bucket list items.

On Tuesday, the longtime and recently fired host of NewsRadio 970 WFLA’s “AM Tampa Bay” traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, completing his mission to visit the capital city of all 50 states.

Next for Harris, waiting out his six-month noncompete clause with iHeartRadio, is to lobby the city of Tampa to move forward with his idea for a Tampa Walk of Fame.

He envisions it being like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but honoring national celebrities who have either lived in or have a strong connection to Tampa Bay.

“I don’t think anyone would oppose it,” Harris said. “It would be a great attraction for tourists and residents.”

He’s been promoting the concept for more than two decades. On June 5, Harris will pitch the walk of fame to the City Council.

“Jack is a legend in our region,” said council member Bill Carlson, who extended the invitation. “If he wants to have a discussion on something, I think he deserves a forum.”

The City Council should expect Harris to come prepared.

Without a list and while boarding his plane to North Dakota, Harris rattled off dozens of people he believes qualify for recognition.

Current Hollywood stars Patrick Wilson, Brittany Snow and Angela Bassett were raised in Tampa Bay, as was late actress Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s maid in “Gone with the Wind.”

Plenty of professional wrestlers have made the area home, like Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Dusty Rhodes.

From the sports world, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner lived here, and Muhammad Ali ringside doctor Ferdie Pacheco was born and raised here.

Those representing music who have lived in this area include saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and pop star brothers Aaron and Nick Carter. And then there is Ray Charles, who recorded his first songs in Tampa.

There could be literary giants, too. “On the Road” author Jack Kerouac and “Pledge of Allegiance” author Francis Bellamy spent their final years in Tampa Bay.

“What we would need is a committee to pick which ones will be on the walk of fame,” Harris said. “I think it would be a great addition to downtown Tampa, maybe somewhere in Curtis Hixon Park,” and a celebrity’s star could be financed through sponsorship opportunities.

While Hollywood has the most famous walk of fame, other cities have them, too.

Nashville, Tennessee, celebrates its connection to music, while St. Louis and Palm Springs, California, have a walk of fame honoring celebrities and historic figures with links to those cities.

“I came up with the idea after visiting Toronto,” which is home to Canada’s Walk of Fame, Harris said. “I realized that a lot of famous and historic people have come and gone from the bay area. It would be great if we celebrated that with our own walk of fame. Maybe we can finally get it done.”