Tag Archives: Florida

pirate ship

Shaking Hands with Pirates

Outlaws of the High Seas

Captain Memo

Captain Memo docked at Clearwater Beach Marina

While the pirates of the Caribbean have become a household name, it is also true that those same pirates roved beyond the Caribbean, to the Carolinas and westward to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and even to New Orleans. While the notion of pirates is romantic, the truth might surprise you. Piracy began long before the Golden Age of Piracy, with which we are most familiar, occuring in the 1700s and 1800s. Men –and women –boarded ships to plunder merchant vessels from the earliest times of shipping history. All parts of the world knew piracy, wherever ships were sailed. The pirates plying the waters of the North American coast, the Bahamas, and the Antilles were the most recent version, existing shortly before the nations of Europe, along with that of the United States, agreed to abolish the practice. But, if piracy is an illegal activity to begin with, how could abolishing it lead to its end? Read on to discover why it worked.

 

Marauding Pirates

John Levique Pirate Fest

John Levique Pirate Festival at John’s Pass, Madeira Beach, Florida

Piracy is labeled as the act of theft or plunder, by means of violence, committed by the crew of a ship, usually against another ship. Piracy’s heyday came when gold was discovered in the Americas. Attacking a ship laden with gold taken from the Native American tribes offered a hefty reward. Pirates worked on their own, keeping all the booty taken from their attacks to themselves. Numerous pirates became rich, and sometimes famous, based on the success of their exploits. Because of the routes of the American treasure shipments, the Caribbean and the coast of Florida were well-known hideouts for pirates.  You might think that the major countries who sailed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean worked hard to put an end to piracy.  The truth, is that they did not. They were, in fact, guilty of the very same crime.

 

Attack of the Privateers

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa, Florida

During times of war, it benefited one side to attack the merchant vessels of the other. Interrupting shipments of goods crippled the supply routes of the enemy. In order to entice ship crews to become privateers, countries would commission a privately owned vessel to engage in privateer attacks. Often, the reward for plundering of enemy ships was the cargo itself. With such bounties to choose from, privateer crews attacked with relish. Unfortunately, that also led to violence. More than one privateer gained fame via a reputation for cruelty. If privateers sound a lot like pirates, it’s because they were. By 1908, the countries invovled agreed to a ban, thus ending further commissions for privateer vessels.

 

Buccaneers of the Caribbean

Treasure Island Florida

Pirate at Treasure Island, Florida

Blurring the line between pirate and privateer were the buccaneers. Buccaneers behaved much like privateers, in that they were well organized. They did not, however, have official permission from governments to “do business.” Their name comes from “smoked meat” which, apparently, they did while in the West Indies Islands. Their ilk was more specific than other pirates of the world, being best known for plundering Spanish ships in the Caribbean and sometimes on the west coast of Africa. Their trade began as meat sellers in the West Indies, but looting ships and attacking coastal towns proved more profitable. Buccaneer ships, it seems, operated much like businesses, the loot being divided equally. They also attacked land targets, which true sea pirates did not often do. Because of the benefit of impeding enemy ships, many governments turned blind eyes to the activities of the buccaneers.

 

End of the Golden Age of Piracy

Captain Memo

Captain Memo on Clearwater Harbor

The lines between buccaneers and privateers, and their pirate counterparts were often indistinct. Both privateers and buccaneers went outside the guiidelines of the governments that supported them. The violence committed by all three groups became notorious. With an overall disruption of shipping by pirate and pirate-like activities, governments began to turn against the practice. By the 1900s, it had fallen into disfavor. The days of governments shaking hands with privateers were over, a withdrawal of commissions for such ventures ensuing. That left the outlaw pirates alone, with even their home ports eventually turning against them, leading to the end of the so-called Golden Age of Piracy.

 

Florida Pirates

pirate flagMore pirates, privateers, and buccaneers came to Florida’s shores than you might imagine. Pirate treasure stories abound, and pirate festivals throughout the state are popular. Be sure to keep up with our continuing pirate stories, in which we will tell you who among the world’s most famous pirates visited our area.

 

 

St Petersburg Florida

For the Love of Speed – Fast Cars and Fun on the Florida Gulf Coast

Festival of Speed

race carTwo automobile events hit the Tampa Bay area this spring. The first is the Festival of Speed. This event displays the high priced cars and boats we all would love to own. The car show runs from March 6th to the 8th and is held outdoors at Vinoy Park. Attend the Festival of Speed to see for yourself where auto meets art.

 

Grand Prix of St Petersburg

race carThe second exciting event for lovers of speed is the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. This race is held on the streets of St Petersburg, with the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay within view. Watch professional racers zip through the streets of one of America’s favorite vacation destinations. This event hold all the thrills you are looking for in professional racing.

 

Illuminated Light Parade

Set on the beautiful St Petersburg waterfront, the 2015 Illuminated Night Parade is a night time treat. This grand display of lights travels through the streets of St Petersburg, each float casting bright light into the coastal towers of St Petersburg, Florida. Enjoy floats, marching bands, dancers, and race cars in town for the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. This is definitely a great weekend to visit this Gulf Coast city.

St Petersburg Florida

Downtown, St Petersburg, Florida

St Petersburg Florida

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

 

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

Downtown St Petersburg, Florida

 

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Gasparilla invasion

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

Tampa Falls to Pirate Invasion

Jose GasparillaThe City of Tampa fell to invasion once again this year as pirates sailed into Tampa Bay. The pirate ship named the Jose Gasparilla sailed up the bay to the convention center where the pirates accepted the key to the city from the mayor. The ship was filled to the brim with pirates, every crow’s nest and deck filled with attacking buccaneers. With cannons thundering, the ship made its way from Port Tampa Bay up Seddon Channel, which ends in front of Tampa’s convention center. An armada of private boats and cruise boats surrounded it, filling the channel from side to side and end to end. The arrival of the ship was greeted by the screams of the capacity crowd along the waterfront.

 

Pirate Party of the Year

Gasparilla festivalThe Gasparilla Pirate Invasion first occurred on horseback, all the way back in 1904. The ship, Jose Gasparilla was added later, apparently being the world’s only fully-rigged modern day pirate ship. The festival is now over a hundred years old and as popular as ever. The streets swarmed with attendees, a large portion wearing pirate gear. Vendors were out in force, booths and carts providing plenty of food and souvenirs. Downtown Tampa parking lots switched from hourly charges to a onetime fee for the day to accommodate the event that filled Tampa to to the brim. The festivities officially began at 11:30 but would-be pirates began to appear in the streets as early as 8:30 in the morning. By the end of the Invasion, the streets were filled from side to side with Gasparilla revelers.

 

Gasparilla Pirate Armada

pirate armadaOne of the best parts of the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion each year is the armada of private and charter boats that accompany the arrival of the tall ship Jose Gasparilla. Charters from our own Clearwater Beach were among the flotilla, our camera capturing Starlite Majesty, The Tropics, Two Georges, Super Queen, and Calypso Queen. The boats arrived to the waters surrounding the convention center non-stop, most of them decorated with beads and other pirate gear. One boater had his own cannon. While the gun was only a foot long, it had all the explosive sound of a large cannon. Private boats cruised the shoreline throwing beads to the waiting crowds along the railings of the convention center. The result was a dizzying array of moving boats, loud music, cannon fire, and shouting crowds.

 

Tampa Waterfront

Gasparilla Pirate InvasionThe Tampa waterfront is a pleasant place to be any day of the year. The area has seen many improvements over the decades. Waterfront dining is the most popular attraction, second only to strolling the waterfront walkways. It is the site of a popular Fourth of July celebration, as well as many other events throughout the year. Amalie Arena and Curtis Hixon Hall are two sports and concert venues at the water’s edge for Tampa fun seekers. And, of course, the waterways of Tampa are a paradise for private boat owners to enjoy, a surprising number of restaurants catering to those arriving by boat. Gasparilla invasionAdding the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion to the Tampa Waterfront is a great idea for the city. The city bursts at the seams for the Gasparilla themed events that include the Gasparilla Kids Parade, the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, the regular Gasparilla Parade, and the nighttime pirate festival. If you are planning a trip to the Tampa Bay area, which includes Clearwater and Saint Petersburg, keep the end of January in mind for the dynamic Gasparilla Pirate Festival events.

 

Video of Gasparilla Pirate Invasion

 

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Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Ultimate Tourist Attraction at Pier 60 Clearwater Beach

 

Kite Festival

Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition

Beach Kite Festival

kite festival Treasure IslandThe Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition flew over the Florida Gulf Coast again this January, lighting up the daytime sky with bright colors. The day started with mild breezes, not the kind you want for a kite competition, or for flying the giant sized kites. Fortune was on the side of the kite flyers, however, when the afternoon weather brought winds that were perfect for kite flying. The skies were partly cloudy, and it the type of day where some people wore shorts and others light jackets. Crowds lined the sidewalk, using the wall at the edge of the sand for seating. The turnout was fantastic, with the beach restaurants and bars filled to capacity. The large crowds lent an atmosphere of excitement to the event.

 

Sport Kite Competition

sport kitesThe completion portion of the festival was as fun to watch as ever. One of the events that drew the most comments was the children’s kite races, where youngsters, holding kites several times their size, raced across the sand. Other competitions included synchronized kite flying, sport kite flying, and flying sport kites to music.

 

Giant Kites

giant kitesWhile the sport kites were flying, all manner of non-competition kites were sailing over the beach at Treasure Island. The giant octopus kite was a favorite again. Many new kites made their first appearances as well. The kite receiving the most comments was the figure of a scuba diver with a shark swimming just behind him. A kite premiering at the beach was the image of a geisha with the flowing tail of the kite representing her dress.

 

Perfect Beach for Kite Flying

kite at Treasure Island BeachWith kites filling skies over the beach, it was easy to enjoy a walk across the sand. The combination of large, colorful, slow moving kites and racing sport kites created a mesmerizing effect.

The location at Treasure Island Beach was well chosen, the sand being wider than any other location on the coast. Plenty of fun shops and restaurants are nearby, as well as tourist activities like fishing charters and day cruises. The festival comes to the beach each year in January, providing a great excuse to get out to the shore at this great beach community.  If you are considering a trip to the Florida Gulf Coast for the winter, the Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition is an event to keep in mind.

 

 

Treasure Island Kite Festival Videos

 

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Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

A Beach Less Traveled

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Tarpon Springs

It Is All Greek to Florida

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs shopsTarpon Springs is a fun and unique tourist town on the Florida Gulf Coast. It is well known for its dining, and its sponge diving industry. The main road through the tourist district is one lane in each direction, with slow traffic that allows tourists to have a fairly free rein of the town. The street has a Greek name. Because the name is relatively unknown in the U.S., it sometimes is mistaken for other, somewhat similar Greek titles. It starts with a “D,” but is it Diogenes, Dionysis, or something else?  Remembering the name isn’t always easy. It might help if you first define three words from the country of Greece that start with a “D,” which we have listed below. Learn them here, and, on your next trip to Tarpon Spring, Florida, you can sound like an expert.

 

Diogenes, Greek Philosopher

DiogenesRemember the philosopher who carried a lantern in the daytime to find an honest man? It was Diogenes, or so the tale goes.  He lived in Greece, the exact years unknown, roughly from 404BC to 323BC. The tale of the lantern might be the most famous, but is not the only one to survive him. As a philosopher, he was best known for challenging conventional wisdom and roles in society. An account exists telling of Diogenes meeting Alexander the Great. When Alexander sought out the philosopher, Diogenes did not bother to stand up, asking Alexander to stand out of his sunlight. Despite being a poor man, he was famous in Greece, and other philosophers of the time were familiar with his views.

 

Dionysus, Greek God

Le_joueur_d'aulos_(BNF_-_Opéra_de_Paris)Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, grape harvest, wine making, and ritual madness. As the story goes, he was a deity, but his mother was an ordinary human. In one version of Dionysus’ story, Zeus rescued his son when his mother died. To preserve the child, Zeus stitched Dionysus into his thigh, an act which transferred immortality. Dionysus was later accepted into Mount Olympus as a god. Dionysus, in mythology, was raised by nymphs, and is associated with satyrs. The followers of Dionysus apparently worshiped their god in the woods. His followers engaged in holidays so excessive that, at one point, the celebrations were outlawed.

 

Dodecanese, Greek Islands

Dodecanese IslandsDodecanese is the easiest of these three words to define. It refers to a group of 162 islands off the coast of Greece. The islands lie between Greece and Turkey, in the Aegean Sea. The core islands are twelve in number, with smaller islands surrounding them. The words Dodeca means twelve, thus Dodecanese Islands. They are positioned at the crossroads of the world, between Asia and Europe. Evidence of habitation dates back to prehistoric times, with ruins from various eras still to be found on the islands. The architecture includes both Classical Greek structures and medieval castles.

 

Dodecanese Boulevard in Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs diver sculptureYou will find the small tourist town of Tarpon Springs on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, near Tampa Bay. Tarpon Springs’ claim to fame is that it is the number one sponge diving location in the United States. Back in 1905, when the sponge industry became mechanized, a local entrepreneur invited 500 sponge divers from the Greek islands to come to Tarpon Springs. Thereafter, the sponge industry and the city were known as a haven of Greek culture. Today, when you walk down the streets of Tarpon Springs, you stand a good chance of hearing Greek spoken in the shops or on the streets. The name of the main street leading through the Sponge Docks is Dodecanese Blvd. On the first Saturday of the month, during the summer, you will find a Greek festival on that streets called Night in the Islands. One can only assume that the name of the festival refers to the Dodecanese Islands. So, when you visit Tarpon Springs, remember, the main street through town is Dodacanese, named after the Greek Islands, not philosophers or gods.

spice shop Tarpon SpringsThe town of Tarpon Springs is a great tourist stop, with loads of nautical souvenirs and natural sponges for sale. The Greek food is fantastic, and the pastry shops are good enough to make the trip to Tarpon Springs worth it all on their own. If you happen to slip up and use the wrong “D” word from above, don’t worry. The important thing is to enjoy the food, fun, and goodies in this charming tourist town.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Never Confuse a Bayou with a Backwater Again

Osprey Nesting Season on the Florida Gulf Coast

 

References: http://tarponspringsareahistoricalsociety.org/Local-History/local-history.htm
lighted boat parade

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Holiday Season in Florida

lighted boat parade in Tarpon SpringsThe holiday season in Florida might not have snow, but it does have plenty of holiday cheer. What we don’t experience with snow, we make up for with miles of seasonal lights and endless festivals. On the Florida Gulf Coast, the water plays a large part in our lifestyles, adding a dimension to events that is easy to appreciate. Holiday boat parades are popular, drawing lots of boaters and loads of spectators.

 

Snow Place like Tarpon

Snow Place Like Tarpon eventThe tourist town of Tarpon Springs, Florida, added an in-town festival to its yearly holiday boat parade. Snow Place Like Tarpon is a street festival held on the main street through Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Avenue is an interesting place on any given day, with old style buildings, multiple antique shops, a museum, and some great restaurants. For the Snow Place Like Tarpon event, Snow Place Like Tarpon holiday festivalmanufactured snow was blown from marquees, to fall on the people below. Vendors lined the curbs, with dancing girls in holiday outfits dancing in the streets. A snow slide occupied an empty lot filled with spectators. The vendors sold holiday crafts and lots of food, including great deserts. A holiday wagon ride was also running for the kids, as well as an outdoor movie screen showing Disney’s Frozen. Most importantly, Santa took Christmas wishes on the dock at the bayou. According to residents of Tarpon Springs, the crowds roving Tarpon Avenue were the largest ever to attend the event. Snow Place Like Tarpon ran from the antique district all the way down to Spring Bayou, where the holiday boat parade was scheduled to run at the end of the evening.

 

Holiday Boat Parade

holiday lights on boatThe holiday lighted boat parade entered Spring Bayou at the end of the evening events. The parade, illuminated the waterways of Tarpon Springs, thrilling happy spectators who had moved from the street festival down to the bayou. Onlookers lined the waterfront with beach chairs and cameras, cheering to the boats as they passed. The boats entered Spring Bayou with holiday music at high volume and their boat horns blasting. The reflection on the water added to the dazzle of the lights. The boat owners enjoyed the event too, turning back for a second spin around the shoreline. boat parade capture The lighted boat parade started and ended on the Anclote River, home of the famous Sponge Docks, the host marina being the docks at Captain Jack’s restaurant and bar. The boats returned by the same route, docking at the marina to enjoy nightcaps and banter about the parade. Snow Place Like Tarpon and the Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat parade made for a fantastic holiday themed night out in the famous tourist town.

 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs FloridaTarpon Springs is a small tourist town on the northern end of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It lies along the Anclote River, home of the famous Sponge Docks, the leading producer of natural sponges in the world. It is known for its Greek community, pioneers of the area’s sponge diving industry. Greek food is a must when visiting this city. Tourist souvenirs are of nautical theme, with sponges sold in every shop. Handmade soaps and kitchen seasonings are also a hit in Tarpon Springs. Boat rides cruise the river, with some taking tourists to the coastal barrier islands at the mouth of the river. Tarpon Avenue is known for its many eclectic antique shops. The city is also a favorite stopover for those on bike rides along the 38 mile Pinellas Trail. Tarpon Springs is forty minutes or less to the north of other famous Florida Gulf Coast destinations such as Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island State Park, and Clearwater Beach. If you plan to visit the Central Gulf Coast, put Tarpon Springs on your list of places to see.

 

Tarpon Springs Lighted Boat Parade video:

Tarpon Springs Lighted Boat Parade video (short version):

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Sand sculpture at Treasure island

Treasure Island Sanding Ovation Festival Takes Sand Sculpting Art to a Science

Sanding Ovation 2014

Go with the Flow sculptureThe Sanding Ovation sand sculpting competition returned to Treasure Island Beach again in November. The event gave residents and visitors a good reason to visit the area’s largest beach. With an enormous expanse of sand available, the event had plenty of space. Artists set up on the north end of the outdoor venue, with vendors streaming southward, the southern end capped by a stage for live music. With music streaming overhead, visitors were treated to a huge assortment of goodies to browse in the vending tents, while smoke from the food vendors wafted through the air. Live bands, food, and souvenirs added to the allure of thes sand sculptures, creating an event that drew large, happy crowds.

 

Beach Treasures and Cuisine

Food tent at Treasure IslandThe array of vending tents and food stalls were impressive at the Sanding Ovation event. Set up on the sands of Treasure Island Beach, the wares were arrayed in long lines, displaying every type of beach themed merchandise imaginable. Beach dresses, sculpted wood home décor, jewelry, art, curious, and toys were among the many choices. For those who were hungry, the Sanding Ovation event was the right place to be. Brats, fresh seafood, Greek food, and local grouper fish sandwiches were all within easy reach. Food vendors at Sanding OvationOf course, iced tea, lemonade, snow cones, and ice cream were also on the menu. At the north end of the event, a large tent held a full bar which served soft drinks as well as alcohol. Although the sand sculptures were enough to lure the crowds to Treasure Island, the extra goodies at the Sanding Ovation festival put the finishing touch on the event.

 

Sand Sculpting Contest at Treasure Island Beach

Divided Self sand sculptureThe key attraction of the Sanding Ovation event was the collection of sand sculptures. Artists from Treasure Island and across the globe converged on the beach to put their talents to the test. The Sanding Ovation artists did not disappoint. Sand sculpture entitled ForbiddenThe artistic ideals were pretty heavy, in fact, visitors commented on how much interpretation was available for each piece. One portrayed rediscovering self, another a “Divided Life,” set alongside a sculpture entitled “Forbidden,” which displayed a woman holding a ball and chain as if it were precious. An area nearby offered visitors a chance to pose alongside a snowman and snow woman crafted from sand. The logos of area businesses who sponsored the event were displayed, as you might suspect, in sand. Large crowds milled around the artwork, discussing which they liked best, what each piece might mean, and peering at who had earned the highest marks in the sand sculpting contest.

 

Sanding Ovation Sand Sculpting Contest Winners

1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award

Love Never Dies sculpture

Love Never Dies by Jonathan Bouchard

2nd Place Winner

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

3rd Place Winner & Sculptors’ Choice Award

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

 

Treasure Island, Florida

Finding Your Old Self Again sculptureTreasure Island sits on the northern reaches of the Central Gulf Coast, enjoying the renowned white sands and beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It his home to great beach shops, ideal beach restaurants, and cool beach bars. It borders famous John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk which is home to waterfront dining and souvenir shopping. Nearby attractions are Fort Desoto Park and Clearwater Beach. If you are looking for a fun vacationTreasure Island Beach spot, take a closer look at this active beach. The sands are wider than any other beach in the region and it boasts plenty of the great tourist attractions that go along with a memorable beach vacation. One more reason to visit? The Sanding Ovation festival will return to Treasure Island again next year!

 

Sanding Ovation Video

 

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Discover the Island of Egmont Key

Discovering Egmont Key

Discover the Island at Egmont Key

Lighthouse on Egmont KeyThe Discover the Island event hit Egmont Key last month, giving area residents and visitors a great reason to learn more about the unique island. The island is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, north of the main shipping channel. Egmont Key Alliance put on the event, adding plenty of fun additions to an already fascinating destination. The event was held November 8th and 9th (2014) with plenty of promotion to let us all know to show up. Attending the event was a rewarding experience, even for those who had visited previously. Visitors were allowed to explore the island at will, with lots of goodies thrown in, such as historical re-enactors, a kids area with games and crafts, a silent auction to help support island preservation efforts, and, of course, a food tent. With the fascinating terrain, wildlife, ruins, and rich history, the Discover the Island event at Egmont Key was a crowd pleaser.

 

Exploring Egmont Key

Ruins on Egmont Key

Island railroad ruinsVisitors were free to discover the ruins of Egmont Key’s military bunkers, which date back well over a hundred years. Only the concrete and some metal remains, leaving the buildings without doors, and open to tour. The decaying buildings are the ruins of Fort Dade, part of a defense structure for Tampa Bay that includes nearby Fort DeSoto. The building began in the 1800’s for the Spanish-American War. The island saw military use up through the Second World War, when it served as an observation and targeting station against enemy ships who might try to enter Tampa Bay. Today on the island, tourists can view the ruins up close. Fort ruins on Egmont KeyMany of Egmont Keys buildings have sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, due to erosion of the island’s west coast. Other ruins are open to enter, including bunkers, housing, and a guard house. Targeting towers stand amid the brush of the island while a network of brick roads lead through a military compound partly reclaimed by forest. Although the event provided an excellent excuse to tour the ruins, Egmont Key is open year round.

Egmont Key Lighthouse

Egmont Key lighthouseA lighthouse still stands on Egmont Key, providing a light, into the present day, to direct ships and other vessels that navigate near the island. The lighthouse, erected in 1858, is the second to exist on the island, the first lasting only a short period before being too damaged by weather for safety. The existing lighthouse has unusually thick walls, the inside being no more than a spiraling metal stairway. For the sake of preservation, visitors are not allowed to climb the tower. For the lighthouse reenactorDiscover the Island event, a historical re-enactor waited at the tower bottom to share his knowledge of the lighthouse, as well as the island itself. No question could stump him, his information on the site satisfying every query. The lighthouse is the best known building on the island, serving as a symbol for Egmont Key.

Guided Tours of Egmont Key

Guided tours at Egmont KeyFor the Discover the Island Event, guided tours were available to walk guests by the most important sites. The guides, versed in the islands military and natural history, walked large groups around the island, describing the role of each building visited. They shared such details as storage containers for mine field parts, underground houses, the methods for targeting enemy ships, Fort Dade operations, an island railway, and more. They also stopped the tour groups at a presentation regarding the wildlife inhabitants of the island. Guides told of the gopher tortoise, an endangered species which lives on the island, digging boroughs into the soft sand. History display at Egmont KeySea turtles nest on the island, and the entire southern end is occupied by the Egmont Key Wildlife Refuge, which is a nesting site for numerous species of birds. Another station provided an up close look at military memorabilia. The tours provided great information, the history portions delivered in the environment where the history occurred.

Discover the Island Goodies

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve raptorA number of other great goodies were in store for visitors who attended the Discover the Island event. Civil war re-enactors set up camp on the island, performing military drills for the crowds that gathered. The drills were well done, with historical commentary from the commanding officer. The order to fire was silent, however, out of respect for a wildlife attraction at Egmont Key for the day. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve  brought a collection of live raptors. Owls, hawks, and falcons were out in the open for visitors to view while they walked down the preserved walkways of the island. Reenactment camp at Egmont KeyAt another site, closer to the beach, pirates (in paper hats) had taken over the lawn, with a pirate chest and kids games. Near the foot of the lighthouse, memorabilia for the island was on sale, as well as a crowd pleasing grilling tent serving hot dogs, chips, and drinks. When put together, the extras thrown into the preservation-themed event made the Discover the Island event a perfect reason to visit Egmont Key.

 

Egmont Key

Egmont Key beachIf Egmont Key sounds like a destination you would like to visit, you are right! The island enjoys the white sand beaches cherished on the Florida Gulf Coast, including the sparkling Gulf of Mexico waters. A ferry departs from Fort Desoto Park on a regular basis. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time. Egmont Key Park is open year round for visitors. For the price of a ferry ride, you can tour its spectacular light house, fascinating ruins, and remarkable beaches. The brick roads of Fort Dade are yours to explore. For those who keep their eyes peeled, the local wildlife might make an appearance as well.

If you are planning a visit to the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, be sure to put Egmont Key on your list of unique sites to see.

Egmont Key video

Egmont Key video

Egmont Key video

Guns on Egmont Key video

 

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Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

Native American Indian Mounds of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown