Need a game plan for the Fourth of July? We've got you covered on America's birthday.
Every day, actually.
Our event listing tracker on tampabay.com features more than 100 separate things to do today — from a 5K run in Clearwater to the golf cart parade in Pass-a-Grille to fireworks galore. We've already published many of these events in the Tampa Bay Times. Many others can be found in the Weekend section of today's newspaper.
The Times publishes thousands of listings throughout the year – everything from plant sales and art exhibits to major concerts. The sheer volume of event listings says something about the vibrant, active lifestyle we enjoy in the Tampa Bay area. There is never any shortage of things to do around here.
That means we have virtually no time to hit the pause button. A team of six people at the Times makes sure the community knows what's happening nearby 365 days a year.
Readers may take these calendars for granted, but there's a tremendous amount of work that goes into writing, editing and maintaining them.
"Every readership study I've ever seen puts 'date night ideas' and 'things to do with kids' at the top of the list of information readers want and I feel that daily from readers who call and write me," says Sharon Kennedy Wynne, who oversees our events and listings operation. "I consider what we do a consumer service."
Sharon notes that we really count on the public to make these lists a reality.
The process starts with community organizers and event managers. We encourage them to enter details into an online database, an event platform powered by CitySpark, that they can access at no charge at tampabay.com/events. We edit the listings every week for the newspaper, making sure they match our style and standards of accuracy. We're also on the lookout to be sure to include a diverse range of things to do.
Listings often come to us without the basics — like the time of day or the address. We try to hunt down as much missing information as we can. If you want to increase the odds your listing will be published, it's important to include complete information. We simply don't have time to run down every essential fact.
Our events team also has to be on the lookout for last minute changes, cancellations, rain dates, moves, price adjustments, duplication, spelling. They have to edit out excessive exclamation marks and fluffy PR talk. They do it all without bylines or glory.
Kelly A. Stefani owns this. She is an editorial assistant on the features staff. She scours hundreds of events to pull into a list every day. Because space is finite in print, she estimates that about 30 percent of the listings we publish on tampabay.com make it into the newspaper.
"We pride ourselves in how information-rich our listings are," Kelly said. "Our holiday listings easily get upwards of 5,000 views on our website."
Online, event organizers who submit their listings also can pay various fees to have their events boosted and promoted on tampabay.com. And soon, we plan to add features to make it easier to buy tickets directly from our website.
Kelly is our self-described events maven. She's seen everything from "Eggstravaganzas" and "Spooktaculars," to naked mud wars and New Year's Eve fetish parties. She just celebrated her 35th anniversary at the Times.
"She makes it look easy, but it's not," Sharon said. "She often stays late trying to get more and more events in — she just really takes it personally if we miss something."
Lightning book update
Our book commemorating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-19 season is done. We've selected more than 175 photos, edited all the stories and designed the pages. And this week, after final proofs were reviewed, we shipped all the pages to a printer in Canada who will run the presses and bind our hardcover coffee table book.
If you placed an order, you can expect the book to arrive at your home toward the end of this month or early in August. The team plans to stock a limited supply in their stores.
Contact the writer at email@example.com. Or follow on Twitter at @markkatches