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You have not lived here until you have ...

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published December 28, 2006


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With another year winding down, it's time for my annual Tampa Bay to-do list.

The mantra is simple: You can't just exist here, you have to live here. Try out these activities if you want to become a true resident.

You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you have ...

- rooted for the Bucs to lose because it improves their draft status.

- savored the grouper taco with chipotle tartar sauce at Bananas Burritos in Clearwater.

- wolfed down a pancake the size of a pizza at the Land O'Lakes Flapjack Festival.

- had chicken and waffles at the Good Luck Cafe in Ybor City.

- devoured one of Aunt Nina's deviled crabs at Brocato's Sandwich Shop in Tampa.

- grooved on some authentic soul food at Atwater's in St. Petersburg.

- ordered a vente white chocolate mocha frappuccino at all five Starbucks outlets on West Shore Boulevard in Tampa.

- witnessed a University of Florida victory with the Tampa Gator Club at Cherry's on Bay to Bay Boulevard.

- witnessed a Florida State loss with the Tampa Gator Club at Cherry's on Bay to Bay Boulevard.

- imbibed at Fly's rooftop lounge. By the way, it's not the Fly or Fly Bar. It's just Fly.

- heard Lola sing Do I Do at the Fox in Tampa.

- put up an El Camino on cinder blocks in your front yard. Oh, wait, that's just Pinellas Park.

- gazed at the Christmas lights during the Church Street Christmas celebration in Dade City.

- ordered grouper and thought, "Is this really grouper?"

- capped off a visit to downtown St. Petersburg with the pesto marinated grilled chicken at Cafe Alma.

- fished off the Skyway Pier.

- seen Tampa Catholic coach and former state Rep. Bob Henriquez dressed as Jack Black's Nacho Libre character.

- scoured for bargains at the Fun-Lan Drive-In Theatre and Swap Shop/Flea Market.

- read about some celebrity's career becoming unglued because of some misstep connected to Tampa Bay. See Miss Nevada USA, Jim Bakker, the Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders, Dexter Manley, etc.

- heard Wesley Snipes say "I look forward to clearing my name and resolving this issue posthaste," and wondering, "Isn't that the same thing he said in New Jack City?"

- turned in your best roll-bounce-rock-skate moves at United Skates of America's Sunday Night Soul Roll in Tampa.

- seen skydivers dot the horizon by the dozens at the annual Turkey Chute in Zephyrhills.

- watched your daughter win a race at the Jr. Gasparilla Distance Classic.

- lavished over the smorgasbord of dining choices at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's annual Best of Tampa Bay event.

- enjoyed the new smoke-free environment at Four Green Fields (but you can still smoke on the new deck).

- wondered out loud when our elected officials are going to get serious about solving our transportation problems.

- seen a grown man cry after the University of South Florida beats West Virginia in football. Hey, coach Leavitt, I ain't mad at you.

- caught one of Lester Freeman's funky old school sets at St. Bart's Island House Grill.

Ernest Hooper can be reached at hooper@sptimes.com.

[Last modified December 28, 2006, 07:15:40]


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