Pinellas Park

Pinellas County residents seeking a central location find it in Pinellas Park. Situated midway between Clearwater and St. Petersburg, this city of approximately 49,079 people is a community-oriented place to live.

This family-friendly community offers a variety of housing options among several neighborhoods and real estate developments, including single-family residences, golf course homes, town homes, condos and waterfront homes.

Performances
One focal point of community activity is the city-owned England Brothers Park, where annual events including the popular Country in the Park festival are held. Every third Tuesday of each month, folks gather there for a free lunchtime performance on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater pipe organ.

Concerts, plays and other live performances are enjoyed at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center throughout the year. The Center was completed in late 2007, seats 500, and is a multi-use facility. Currently, it is home to the Civic Orchestra, a local community chorus and the Sunstate Opera Society. The facility is also available for weddings and banquets.

horseWatch for Horses
An active parks and recreation department provides opportunities for casual or league play, and indoor and outdoor activities. It is also a very well known equestrian community in Pinellas County. Several of the parks have horse trails and the main equestrian attraction is Helen Howarth Park. Horses are commonplace enough that traffic officials saw fit to place horse crossing lights on some streets and cross walk buttons high enough so that riders can reach them.

On the weekend, residents might be found hunting for a bargain at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market, a 100-acre market that attracts guests from near and far.

Factoids:
Population: 49,079 according to the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 14.7 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: England Brothers Park, Country in the Park festival, City Auditorium, Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, The Civic Orchestra, The Sunstate Opera Society, League Play, Indoor and Outdoor Activities. Horse Trails, Helen Howarth Park. Equestrian Events, Flea Markets.

Tarpon Springs

tarpon1In the later part of the 19th Century, Tarpon Springs was a small resort village named for the leaping fish splashing in Spring Bayou. Never mind that those fish were mullet and not tarpons because the town was shortly to become world famous for another sea creature – the sponge.

The discovery of a plentiful supply just in the surrounding Gulf waters soon brought islander Greeks from the Mediterranean to harvest sponges, a trade that turned out to be very profitable. In the 1930s the sponge industry was Florida’s largest, outstripping even tourism.

Tarpon Springs still benefits from that boom. First of all, the Greek heritage in the town gives it a unique Eastern Mediterranean ambiance that has a wonderful transporting power. Secondly, the sponge docks are thriving still with the sponge industry having experienced a revival starting in the late 20th Century. The sponge docks are a great getaway where you can eat a great meal on the water, shop at souvenir shops, take a cruise up the Anclote River, or simply stroll and gawk.

The town’s 23,484 citizens (according to the 2010 U.S. Census) own homes that span the gamut from mobile home to mansion. Many residents work in nearby Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa.

Theoretically, a youngster could go from pre-school through college without leaving the city limits. In respect of  local heritage, Tarpon Springs High School offers courses in the Greek language. Additionally, St. Petersburg College maintains a campus in Tarpon Springs.

Recreation
The city supports several parks, as well as the downtown Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and the Cultural Center. On January 6 of each year, the Greek Orthodox community presents the Epiphany Celebration in which selected young men dive for the cross in Spring Bayou. The event is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and draws thousands of spectators and certainly lots of media attention. Later in the spring the Fine Arts Festival, a juried arts show, comes to town and is one of Florida’s largest.

“I was born and raised here. Then I moved away for 25 years. When I came back, I discovered how much I love the place. The quaintness, the peacefulness is just like it was 50 years ago. I could hit the lottery tomorrow, but I would still live in Tarpon Springs. The history, the Greek celebrations, the beautiful places – we know what nice living is. You’ll never get me out of here.” Michael Houllis, born and raised in Tarpon Springs, and returning resident.

Factoids:

Population: 23,484
Land Area: 9.14 Sq. Miles
 

Statistics are an estimation only

Points of Interest: Unique Eastern Mediterranean Ambiance, The Sponge Docks, Great Greek Meals on the water, Take a cruise up the Anclote River, City Parks, The Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and the Cultural Center, The Epiphany Celebration, In the spring – the Fine Arts Festival.

Dunedin

dunedin1A tropical beachfront community, Dunedin offers a relaxed lifestyle with a historic, quaint downtown and superb natural beauty for you to enjoy. Cozy bungalows and historic residences as well as new condominiums and modern beach homes provide a wide range of housing styles for those lucky enough to live here. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Dunedin was the permanent residence of 35,321 people. The area attracts artists, business owners, sun-lovers and sailors making Dunedin a rich and diverse community. With four miles of picture-perfect waterfront, you are always within walking or biking distance to the beach and sidewalks along the waterline. Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins jump as you gaze out over the Intercoastal.

Two of the most beautiful beaches in the world are easily accessible from Dunedin. A nature preserve, Honeymoon Island, offers bird-watching along the three mile Osprey trail where you may spot American Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, or Great Horned Owls. Look down and you may see gopher tortoises and armadillos by your side. Caladesi Island State Park, took the coveted #1 spot for best beach in America in 2008. It offers a rare glimpse of Florida’s precious nature. After a short ferry or boat ride you are taken away to a tropical paradise. How many can say they have that only five minutes away from home?

Traditional Main Street
Downtown Dunedin offers boutiques, antique shops, fine and casual dining with a relaxing seaside atmosphere and even a historic museum housed in a former railroad station. Here you can enjoy lunch at a restaurant alongside a portion of the 34-mile long Pinellas Trail which winds its way through town.

Arts, Culture and Festivals
Arts and sports get equal billing here. The Dunedin Fine Art Center offers world-class exhibitions and houses an interactive hands-on children’s art museum. At any given time of the year, the Fine Art Center offers over 80 classes to all ages in every conceivable mode of expression. One of Florida’s favorite juried art shows, Art Harvest, is hosted in Dunedin, along with dozens of art, music and food festivals throughout the year. The nine-day annual Highland Games and Festival pay tribute to the city’s Scottish heritage.

For Youngsters
Dunedin is a wonderful place to raise a family, with excellent neighborhood public schools, including Pinellas County’s first charter school, Academie DaVinci, which provides an enriching fine and performing arts curriculum. Many private schools are also available.

Sports leagues, nature programs, art workshops, golfing lessons, sailing and tennis clubs, softball, basketball and theater camps are just a smattering of the many and diverse activities available to children and teens.

dunedin2Parks & Recreation
Kids aren’t the only ones having fun in Dunedin. The city’s leisure services division sponsors year-round activities and operates four recreation facilities for residents of all ages. Community sports leagues for adults and youth as well as the everyday recreational opportunities provided by biking and hiking trails, the beaches, marinas and the Gulf of Mexico keep Dunedin residents active 365 days of the year. The Dunedin Golf Club caters to golfers, while the municipal marina is a haven for boaters. Along the Dunedin Causeway, windsurfers, sailors, kayakers and jet skiers enjoy the protected waters of St. Joseph Sound. No fewer than 29 city parks offer amazing recreational opportunities. In addition Dunedin is also the spring training home for the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Dunedin is an exciting town to be a part of – a place with a true sense of community  focused on families, where kids can be kids, where people care about each other and where I feel safe and don’t worry about anything.” Tony Scruton, 20-year resident.

 

Factoids:
Population: 35,321 as of the 2010 U.S. Census
Land Area: 10.4 Sq. Miles
 

Points of Interest: The Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dozens of art; music and food festivals, The nine-day annual Highland Games and Festival, Dunedin Country Club caters to golfers, The municipal marina, Dunedin Causeway, Windsurfing, Sailing, Kayaking and Jet sking,The protected waters of St. Joseph Sound, 29 city parks, Pinellas Trail, Toronto Blue Jays.

Epiphany Day Celebration

epiphany1A year of good luck and blessings. That’s what’s at stake for the over 50 Greek Orthodox teens who dive into the chilly waters of Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs on January 6 every year.  Each young man hopes to be the one who retrieves the cross tossed into the water by the Bishop, thus securing a blessing for himself and his church. The crowds – numbering in the tens of thousands – cheer as one youth surfaces triumphantly, cross in hand.  And the celebration begins!

The celebration engages the entire community. Local schools and businesses close so that families can join in this annual festival, beginning with a prayer for calm seas, a blessing of the waters, followed by singing, dancing and very fine Greek food. All are welcome, and celebrants come from all over the country and beyond.

For more than 100 years, Epiphany Day has been the most important celebration day in the town of  Tarpon Springs. It is a holiday rich in symbolism and beauty, steeped in the traditions of the church as well as the original Greek divers who brought their strong island and maritime heritage to Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs’ Epiphany Day celebration is the largest in the Western hemisphere. And, it’s only in Pinellas.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

clearwaterjazzholidayNew Orleans has its Jazz Fest. Montreux has its Jazz Festival. In NYC, it’s the JVC. In Pinellas County we gather for our own world-class musical celebration held every October at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday in the city’s downtown area.

What started as a 10-day series of jazz concerts staged from the back of a flatbed truck has evolved into a major regional jazz festival. For three decades now, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday has brought together some of the greatest jazz talents in the world in front of a large and appreciative crowd of fans. And there’s been a lot to appreciate.

clearwaterjazzholiday2Through the years the Clearwater Jazz Holiday stage has been graced by legends: Herbie Mann, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Woody Herman and the Count Basie Orchestra only to name a few. The festival has also showcased contemporary jazz stars such as Jean-Luc Ponty, Bela Fleck, Buckwheat Zydeco, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Natalie Cole and many more.

Against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico, intense sunsets vie with the music for your attention. Most spectacular of all, the event is free to the public. The Clearwater Jazz Holiday is no doubt one of the most magical musical events in the world. And, it’s only in Pinellas.