Christopher Spata - Culture Reporter

Culture Reporter

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. Audrey Ann Southard, in a YouTube video from inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, left, and outside in a photo from her Facebook page.
  2. A TikTok video showing an arrest at a Florida airport in November was used in a montage of #NoFlyList videos claiming to show arrests of rioters at the U.S. Capitol.
  3. Prenda la vela cuando jueguen los Bucs.
  4. A vintage Buccaneers shirt for sale at Curated Heat in St. Petersburg.
  5. Clockwise from bottom, Demetrius Fletcher, 15, along with his sister Ka'Mya Fletcher, 16, mother, Crystal Norals, 34, sister Rosie Montgomery, 6, and cat King pose for a photo Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 at their home in New Port Richey.
  6. 1771 Designs' Siege the Playoffs T-shirt comes in white, red and creamsicle.
  7. Pat Moore, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, fills a syringe with Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to emergency medical workers and healthcare personnel at the Chester County Government Services Center, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in West Chester, Pa.
  8. Laura Curts rides her bicycle in Tampa. At age 41, she finally learned to ride one in 2020.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier chases Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Brett Phillips as they celebrate Phillips' walk-off single for the the 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 24 in Arlington, Texas.
  10. The alternative holiday known as Festivus can be traced to the classic 1997 episode of Seinfeld called “The Strike.” (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television Inc.)
  11. Ybor City's famed chickens strut down a nearly empty Seventh Avenue sidewalk outside the Ritz Ybor in Tampa on May 5, 2020. The Ritz hasn't hosted a concert since March. As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into summer, it's unclear when the venue will be open for business again.
  12. Festivus, the made-up holiday "Seinfeld" made famous, is celebrated by characters on the show on Dec. 23 and features a Festivus pole. Here, a scene from the "Seinfeld" Festivus episode, "The Strike," featuring the pole. [Sony TV]
  13. Clockwise from bottom, Demetrius Fletcher, 15, along with his sister Ka'Mya Fletcher, 16, mother, Crystal Norals, 34, sister Rosie Montgomery, 6, and cat King pose for a photo Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 at their home in New Port Richey.
  14. Una foto de 2009 de la fundadora de Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin, en la foto con Flavio, un felino de circo retirado que vive en su santuario de animales en Tampa.
  15. Candy Couser, in an undated photo, is seen at Big Cat Rescue. The Tampa sanctuary said Couser, a volunteer there, was mauled by a tiger on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.
  16. From left: Meishabella Koulianos, 12, Joseph Chase, 5, Michelle Ekren, 39, and Michael Chase, 41, stand outside their apartment on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in New Port Richey. Joseph, who has special needs, was removed from his parents after his mother died, and was placed in temporary foster care. Michael, who is Joseph's uncle and a city bus driver, has taken him in and started the process of adoption. Michelle, Chase's fiance, quit her job  to help care for Joseph.
  17. These shirts come from Pete's General in St. Petersburg, left, and Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa.
  18. Tampa Theatre went dark in March due to the coronavirus.
  19. Charlie tries on an outfit at Downtown Dogs in Hyde Park Village in Tampa.
  20. A ceramic cat has survived on the roof of the Adams and Jennings funeral home in Tampa, for 70 years.  They knocked down the old building, and put the cat on the new structure.
  21. The mangrove tunnels at Weedon Island in St. Petersburg are accessible by kayak.
  22. From left: Sandy Sears, 73, Garry Sears, 75, and Johnnie Sears, 54, work on cleanup at their home at 324 Shore Drive E. in Oldsmar which was flooded by two inches of storm surge which entered the home overnight on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta where residents of Tampa Bay's counties are mostly breathing a sigh of relief as they assess the damage from high winds and flooding.
  23. Storm surge from Tropical Storm Eta flooded Tampa Bay area roadways Wednesday night, prompting the closure of some major highways.