By Ray Cardello for July 10, 2021 Season 2 / Post 26
I have traveled to St Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, every year since I was in preschool. Watching an area grow over 60 plus years gives me a pretty good perspective on how it has developed and prospered into one of the most desirable regions in one of the most progressive states in the country. In this case, progressive is meant in a positive vein, not like the radical left! Florida has excellent leadership and simply does things right.
My father fell in love with St Pete when he reentered the country after being in the Philippines in World War II. He always thought of Treasure Island and St Pete as his second home. His kids inherited his passion as I still visit there, and my younger sister has retired there. Coincidentally, my sweetheart has had a condo in the area since the 80s. A lot is drawing us to the gem of the Gulf Coast.
The Don CeSar Hotel was a medical hospital when my dad arrived back fro WW II.
Decades ago, St Pete was known as Heaven’s Waiting Room. It was a wonderful retirement community. But because of the aging population, it was not an exciting and attractive destination for young people—my, how things have changed. With a vision to the future, St Pete and Tampa have rebuilt their downtowns into meccas for fine dining, shopping, the arts, high rise living, and of course, sports. In my youth, the only sports of note, other than college, was the Grapefruit League for Major League Baseball’s Pre-season. It was fun to go to Al Lang Field and see our Red Sox take on the Cardinals. Like the region, sports have grown and prospered. Some might even say that the Tampa Bay Area is now Title Town USA. With three championships in the last two years, one Super Bowl victory for the Bucs and two Stanley Cups for the Lightning, there is no shortage of trophies and bragging rights in the local bars. Even the Rays, with the lowest payroll in Baseball, are always playoff-worthy.
This metamorphosis of the Tampa- St Pete region is a beautiful success story. While other big cities like New York, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and LA are declining because of mismanagement, cost, and crime, Tampa-St Pete has flourished. What has happened here should be a model for elsewhere. How a region can reinvent itself in fifty years is nothing short of miraculous. Those other cities I mentioned will not take this model and make it theirs. Under Democrat control, it would take too much effort and is not the game plan for the left. They want to keep things down, oppressed, and in need of help. That is what Dems do best.
It is now more crowded on my visits. The airport and highways are always bustling. But that is now part of the draw. The excitement is palpable, and you can sense the pride in the faces and voices of the residents. They should take pride. It was a lot of work, but they have the satisfaction of a job well done and a dynamic place to call home for a lifetime.