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Neighborhood news

Crossword challenge won by a bunch of squares

Um, we mean the puzzle, not the winners. Anyway, your prizes are in the mail. Really.

By Rick Gershman
Published February 9, 2007


We figured it might take awhile for Gasparilla Crossword Puzzle contest entries to start trickling in, and that would be okay.

Crossword guru Merl Reagle made us an impressively challenging puzzle. Solvers needed to balance general interest knowledge with pirate themes, and they needed to know a little about Tampa and Gasparilla.

We published the puzzle Jan. 26, a Friday, and began receiving entries the very same day. Honestly, we're a little scared of these folks.

In all, we received 52 entries from people who thought they were smart enough to have the answers right. We can only wonder how many thousands tried to meet the challenge but were defeated by our cunning wordplay and twisted genius. Or a broken No. 2 pencil.

Most of the puzzles were correctly solved. A handful could not be included in the drawing because the solvers didn't circle or highlight, or otherwise indicate the six diagonal "hidden treasures," such as DOUBLOONS or PIECES OF EIGHT.

And sorry, Mr. Barleycorn, but while it does appear in the puzzle, "AOAIIATAA" is not a hidden treasure. And no, neither is "LTARDM." Better luck next time.

To determine the winner and two consolation prizes, we utilized the highly sophisticated process of tossing all the entries into a box and shaking it. Then we recruited a highly sophisticated editor to reach in and select three entries.

(The box also included a highly sophisticated Palmetto bug, an unnecessary addition, but one intended to get a big laugh. Which it did. Albeit not from the highly sophisticated editor.)

The consolation prizes go to Bill Hayden of Lutz and Michael Novac of Tampa. Congratulations, gentlemen. Look for your prizes in the mail.

And the contest winner is: Tina Delgado of Tampa. Congratulations to Tina, who won because hers was the first entry pulled from the box.

But we also appreciate that Tina, along with a few other entrants, actually included the "astrological sign" and "most painful childhood memory" information we jokingly solicited.

For the record, they were: "Gemini" and "My new doll 'peeing' on my lap after I fed her from a bottle."

Tina also provided this note:

P.S. I love Merl Reagle's brain! It is a beautiful mind!

We couldn't agree more, Tina. Congratulations, and keep an eye on the mailbox for your Grand Prize, which coincidentally is Merl Reagle's brain. (Just kidding. Probably.)

Thanks again for participating, and please start practicing now for next year's Gasparilla Twister Challenge: "Left hand, Bayshore Boulevard! Right foot, Ye Mystic Krewe!"

Rick Gershman can be reached at or 226-3431.

[Last modified February 8, 2007, 10:44:35]

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