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It’s great to live in a tourist destination area

It�s great to live in a tourist destination area as there is always something to do. An ideal location for businesses from the small specialty shops and restaurants to the established chains and department stores, the area is perfect for theme parks, attractions and many cultural events.

We�ve all visited many of the local attractions, some several times, and we return time and time again as the attractions, museums and annual festivities continuously change. New items are added with many new events scheduled during our prime season.

Surely you�ve heard � The 2009 Super Bowl is coming to Tampa, Florida. Football enthusiast, may wish to continue the celebration along the shores of our Gulf Beaches. The combination of the 2009 Super Bowl followed by several days lounging by The Gulf of Mexico sounds like an ideal plan for the week of February 1st.

If you�re heading down to the Gulf Beaches next week, let me give you a �heads-up� on the festivities taking place.

APRIL 4TH BRINGS STREET RACING TO OUR AREA. Now in the fourth year, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in one of the most popular annual events in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area and features world class auto racing, concerts, exhibitions and family activities. The race, run on a waterfront circuit, includes a combination of adjacent downtown streets that overlook the Bay and St. Petersburg Harbor and Marina. Drivers race at speeds exceeding 170 mph along the 14-turn, 1.8 mile temporary racing circuit.

Racing began in St. Petersburg back in 1985 with the Trans-Am Series and continued on the downtown waterfront circuit from 1985-1990. During 1996-97, the race course was revived around Tropicana Field but the course was considered unsatisfactory. In 2003, the event was once again revived as a Champ Car event utilizing a modified version of the original 1985-90 waterfront circuit. It was quiet here in 2004 due to issues with the promoters and when the race returned in 2005 it switched to the IndyCar series, and marked the first non-oval event of the Indy Racing League. Beginning in 2007, the race weekend was expanded to include an American Le Mans Series event. Now scheduled through 2009, with additional negotiations �in the works,� we are hopeful to be enjoying this exciting event for many years to come.

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to complete in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. The Indy Pro Series features a 16-race schedule with teams completing for nearly $4 million in prize money while maneuvering cars that are second only in speed to the IndyCar Series.

The American Le Mans Series features high-tech sports cars from the most prestigious automobile manufacturers in the world. The unique four classes of competition (showcasing exotic, open-top prototypes and sophisticated production-based GT cars) complete on the track at the same time.

The IndyCar Series is the premier open-wheel series in the United States, completing on a challenging combination of superspeedway, short ovals, scenic road courses and temporary street circuits. Fifteen events will be conducted in the United States during 2008 plus one in Japan. The IndyCar Series continues to be the fastest and most competitive racing series and attracting a diverse lineup of drivers including Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon.

This year, April 4th through April 6th, there has been significant changes in the scheduled races. The Acura Sports Car Challenge, and the American Le Mans Series feature race, will be Saturday afternoon with qualifying for the Honda Indy St. Pete beginning shortly afterward. The weekend event will feature the Honda Indy St. Pete on Sunday and two Indy Pro Series races. Air shows, drifting exhibitions and driver autograph sessions will also be featured during the weekend. Tickets are available through 727-898-4639. The event is telecast on ESPN and ABC.

APRIL 5TH BRINGS A HOME TOWN BEACH FESTIVAL TO INDIAN ROCKS BEACH with the Beauty and the Beach Festival. There�s something for everyone with activities taking place at the Indian Rocks Beach Kolb Park area and directly on the beach in Indian Rocks Beach (18th Avenue Beach Access). Sponsored by the City of Indian Rocks Beach and the Beach Art Center, the festivities will begin at 7:00 a.m. with a Pancake Breakfast in the Art Center. Also at the Kolb Park location, beginning at 9:00 a.m., there will be an outside arts and crafts show featuring watercolors, oils, jewelry, stained glass, pottery, woodcrafts, creative crafts, gallery show of art, children�s activities tent, delicious food and music by Malku. Don�t miss the famous Chalk Walk featuring street art performed by professional artists, school children, families, friends or anyone wishing to undertake the challenge of creating art in a 8� X 8� square on Bay Palm Boulevard. The Kolb Park festivities will conclude at 4:00 p.m.

On the beach for runners and walkers of all ages, the Guppy�s Gulfside Gallop 5K Race and one mile walk/fun run will begin at 8:00 a.m. Racing will start and finish at County Park (1700 Gulf Boulevard) with the race taking place along the beach (application is required). The Jason Young Band will begin playing at 11:00 a.m. Kite flying takes place along the beach as well as The Taste of Indian Rocks Beach featuring many local restaurants. The festivities will continue until sunset. Enjoy an old fashion sand castle contest and the Little Miss Beauty & the Beach Contest at 2:00 p.m.

Salvador Dali and Daliwood. If you�ve been here before and visited the famous Salvador Dali Museum, let me tell you about what is going on now. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg presents Dali & Film the very first exhibition examining the relationship between the paintings and films of Salvador Dali. Most folks know that Salvador Dali was a surrealist painter (1904-1989) but did you know he was involved in the movies? For the new exhibit, a number of important works drawn from the Dali Museum�s own extensive collection have been added.

If you haven�t experienced this interesting and cultural museum, you must do so to experience the genus of this 20th century painter. I recommend that you take the tour with the docent, at least the first time, as there is so much to see and to hear about the exhibits. The information provided brings additional understanding to the artist�s work while showing the genius and talent of Salvador Dali. Two of his best known classic works, The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus remain in the museum�s collection and are themselves a sight to behold.

The St. Petersburg Salvador Dali Museum is the permanent home of the world�s most comprehensive collection of the renowned Spanish artist�s work. Compiled by Eleanor and A. Reynolds Morse over a 45-year period, the collection is celebrated for its 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and object d�art, plus an extensive archival library. With oils spanning 1917 through 1970, the collection provides an excellent overview of Dali�s major themes and symbols.

If you are unable to go to Dali�s own museum in Figueres, Spain, why not take the time to see what we have to offer right here in St. Petersburg. Periodic rotations of the collection and special exhibitions are continuous. Now through June 1, 2008, you can view this new Dali & Film exhibition.