Christopher Spata, Features Writer

Christopher Spata

Features Writer

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.

Locale Market in St. Petersburg temporarily closed for health violations

Katherine Plecas, 73, of St. Petersburg walks to the doors of Locale Market to read a closed sign Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in St. Petersburg.  The sign which was posted on the entrance doors to the market read
The gourmet market in the Sundial shopping center was closed on Valentine’s Day night.

Louis C.K. in Tampa: No phones, no protests, no saying the word ‘Parkland’

Louis C.K., shown here in 2017, is performing at Side Splitters Comedy Club in Tampa through Feb. 9, 2019. [Chris Pizzello | Invision/AP, File]
The sold out crowd at Side Splitters seemed thrilled to catch Louis C.K. in the small Tampa venue.

Will Gov. Ron DeSantis ride the giant slide at the Florida State Fair?

Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, left, former Attorney General Pam Bondi, and former Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam take a trip down the giant slide during the Governors Luncheon at the Florida State Fair in Tampa in 2017.  ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
Is a bipartisan plunge at the fairís annual Governorís Day Luncheon in the cards?

Fake news: Comedy website is like the Onion for Tampa Bay

A screen shot from Tampa News Force. The parody of a local news site posts satirical news stories. [Courtesy of Tampa News Force]
Tampa News Force is a satirical news site with references that will land hardest with locals.

Welcome to St. Petersburg's Tiny Town. Population: one cool artist dude

Artist Dan Painter, 56, of St. Petersburg talks about Tiny Town, which is made up of 11 art pieces he created. The structures include a drive-in, radio station, fishing pier, seafood restaurant, auto garage, motel, Officer's Club, bathhouse, gas station, barbershop, bank and salvage yard. He is currently working on adding a trailer park. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
Dan Painter has built a remarkable tiny town in the Warehouse Arts District, and he's the mayor.