& Area Guide
Ybor stumbled upon Guavaween
By BABITA PERSAUD
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 1999
Modeled upon Mardi Gras, Guavaween's roots run deep in Ybor.
As legend has it, in the late 1800s, Gavino
But climate and rising land prices prevented his erecting a guava factory near Tampa. Ybor City became a land of cigars instead.
Gutierrez's attempt, though, wasn't forgotten by Steve Otto, then a newspaper columnist for the Tampa Times. In the 1970s he nicknamed Tampa the Big Guava. After all, New York was the Big Apple, wasn't it?
When the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce and the now defunct Playmakers Theater were looking for an annual October fund-raiser, guava was suggested as as a theme during one meeting, and the suggestion stuck.
Of course, organizers need a person, not a fruit, to lead the parade, so the myth of Mama Guava, a Chiquita-banana style woman, was born.
As the story goes, she emerged one day from a mysterious union between Jose Gaspar and a scrub palmetto. She was coated in guava paste during birth.
Every Guavaween, her task is well-defined: Take the "bore" out of Ybor.
Through Seventh Avenue, she leads her loyal followers in the Mama Guava Stumble, a parade to show participants' creative side and demonstrate how satirical they can be about current affairs.
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