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Christopher Spata - Features Writer

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.

  1. Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla fire their guns and cannons aboard the Jose Gasparilla as it heads for the dock at the Tampa Convention Center during the pirate invasion.
    The prominent former Tampa Police corporal says the boom forced him into early retirement.
  2. Pirate beads reading "Gasparilla" for sale at a store in Tampa in 2006.
    Who should own ‘Gasparilla’? Is it the krewe behind the parade? A beauty pageant? Or the people?
  3. Javian Hernandez and Jackson Stephenson, president and vice president of USF's Society of Aeronautics and Rocketry.
    If their professor Manoug Manougian launched a rocket into space in 1961, maybe they can get there too.
  4. Chef Rosana Rivera se anot162 un récord al convertirse en la primera latina en ganarle a Bobby Flay en Food Network. Foto: Instagram
    PRIMERA LATINA EN LOGRARLO. Los fundadores de Xilo en el Hall on Franklin se enfrentaron en el concurso de Food Network. Y uno de ellos ganó.
  5. The cast of "Floribama Shore." Season 3, which was shot in Pinellas County, premieres in November.
    Things have turned so sour in St. Pete, that the crew heads to South Carolina for a getaway.
  6. The cast of "Floribama Shore." Season 3, which was shot in Pinellas County, premieres in November.
    Catch up on the MTV reality series filmed in St. Pete Beach and St. Petersburg here.
  7. From left: Todd "MJ" Schnitt, Michael “Froggy” Cusamano and Dom "Fester" Siciliano, in the studio to record their new podcast.
    Froggy and Fester are back in the mix for the new podcast, too.
  8. The cast of "Floribama Shore." Season 3, which was shot in Pinellas County, premieres in November.
    Plus, a video of Candace falling down the stairs.
  9. From left: Chefs Ricardo Castro, Bobby Flay and Rosana Rivera await the results of Round 1 in their episode of the Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay."
    The founders of Xilo at the Hall on Franklin faced off on the Food Network competition show. And one of them won.
  10. Longtime Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Al Ruechel takes a break during a taping of Political Connections at the Spectrum Bay News 9 studios Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
    The anchor who helped launch the local news network will say farewell on Christmas Eve.