The opinions and viewpoints in this feature are solely those of this website's owner,
and not necessarily those of any other involved in the Save Fairyland campaign, unless otherwise indicated.

 

Save Fairyland! is a local effort initiated by Tampa Natives Show host
Mario Nuńez and joined by
Rotary's Camp Florida Resource Development Director Brenda Piniella Rouse, along with concerned Tampa natives, Tampa citizens--both former and present, and friends, to acquire, restore and relocate the beloved storybook character figures of Tampa's  Lowry Park Fairyland for public display.

Saving Fairyland  -  Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5

Lowry Park/Fairyland History    Herman - King of the Zoo     Safety Village      Fantasia Golf

 


                                          THE EXHIBIT

2017-Mar. 2 - Tampa Bay History Center posted event Finding Fairyland, Rediscovering Tampa's Lost Theme Park
Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Humpty Dumpty. Little Red Riding Hood. Once upon a time in Tampa, these storybook characters frolicked near the Hillsborough River at a place called Fairyland. After closing in the1990s – the fabled figurines disappeared, but the memory of times spent at Fairyland lived on in the imaginations of Tampa residents. Those figures have found a new – if temporary – home at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Finding Fairyland:
Rediscovering Tampa’s Lost Theme Park
, opening Saturday, March 18, will feature many of the original sculptures from Fairyland, on view to the public for the first time in 20 years. The exhibit is made possible by local restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, who purchased the collection of Fairyland sculptures from the city of Tampa after they were discovered in a city storage facility. Gonzmart plans to restore the figurines – 11 scenes from classic fairytales in all – and put them on public display, possibly in Waterworks Park near Ulele. Opened in 1957, Fairyland was attached to Lowry Park Zoo. The free attraction was a favorite for local families, who entered via Rainbow Bridge before encountering a 20-foot-high Old Woman in the Shoe and Mary’s Little Red Schoolhouse along a winding path that included vignettes from 11 different nursery rhymes. Fairyland was shuttered in the 1990s and Rainbow Bridge was demolished.
The figurines were discarded, too, resigned to a city storage yard before being recently discovered. Gonzmart purchased the figurines and plans to restore them to their original condition. “It’s a throwback to a simpler time in Tampa,” said History Center Curator Rodney Kite-Powell. The exhibit will also include family photos taken at Fairyland over its more than 30 years in existence. Photos can be submitted to fairylandexhibit@tampabayhistorycenter.org. “Finding Fairyland” is on view through May 21
 
 
2017-Mar. 3 - Michael Kilgore announced the Tampa Bay History Center event
Even as restoration continues on the Fairyland characters Richard Gonzmart purchased at a city auction, he's lending them to the Tampa Bay History Center for a temporary exhibit. Most of them are "as is," after being abandoned and exposed to the elements for many years. Also, if you have memories of Fairyland at Lowry Park Zoo, the History Center is requesting that you share them as part of the exhibit.
 
2017-Mar. 17 - Jeff Houck shared his video to the Save Fairyland Group from Ulele Restaurant's post

Jack and the Beanstalk. Humpty Dumpty. The Three Little Pigs. Once upon a time in Tampa, these storybook characters frolicked near the Hillsborough River at a place called Fairyland. After closing in 1996 at Lowry Park Zoo, the fabled figurines disappeared, but the memory of times spent at Fairyland lived on in the imaginations of Tampa residents.

Those figures have found a new – if temporary – home at the Tampa Bay History Center.

“Finding Fairyland: Rediscovering Tampa’s Lost Theme Park,” opening Saturday, will feature many of the original sculptures from Fairyland, on view to the public for the first time in 20 years.

 

 

The exhibit is made possible by Columbia Restaurant Group 4th Generation President/CEO Richard Gonzmart, who purchased the collection of Fairyland sculptures from the city of Tampa after they were discovered in a city storage facility.Gonzmart is restoring 11 scenes from classic fairytales with plans to put them on public display.

The exhibit will also include family photos taken at Fairyland over its more than 30 years in existence.

 

Jeff Houck joined the Columbia Restaurant Group in late August of 2015 after working most recently as the marketing and public relations director for Locale Market in St. Petersburg. He previously spent 25 years in journalism, including 12 years as a food editor, writer, columnist, blogger and podcaster for The Tampa Tribune.

Jeff also worked at FoxSports.com, the Palm Beach Post, the Florida Times-Union, the Anchorage Times and the Pensacola News Journal. His has won awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Florida Press Club, the Alaska Press Club and the American Academy of Nursing. In 1998, his work was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

 

2017-Mar. 16 - The Tampa Bay History Center posted a photo of the exhibit delivery on their Facebook page


Photo from Tampa Bay History Center on Facebook

 

 2017-Mar. 18 "Finding Fairyland exhibit opened at the Tampa Bay History Center

Photos by

 


Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 


Photo at right:  This 1961 photo captured the dedication ceremony for the Lowry Park marquee and zoo expansion on the corner of Sligh Avenue and North Blvd.  Pictured L to R are John F. Cinchett-President Cinchett Neon Sign Co.; Fran Neff-City of Tampa Parks Dept. Director; the Hon. Julian Lane-Mayor of Tampa, and General Sumpter [sic] Lowry.

The Lowry Park sign was the largest neon sign of its type ever constructed in the city of Tampa.  Designed by the Cinchett Neon Sign Co., the sign stood 42 feet tall and was constructed of turquoise porcelain-on-steel panels with white neon letters and stars featuring Art-deco style neon cascades extending down both sides of the marquee.  The sign was actually designed in the form of a memorial cross to honor deceased members of the Lowry family who donated the land to the city of Tampa for construction of the park and zoo.

 


Provided courtesy of the Cinchett Collection and author John V. Cinchett

   

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

 

 

 

   
   


The photo at upper left was contributed to TampaPix by the photographer Karen Brown and shows Cindy Summerfield and her daughter, circa 1972.

   

 


 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

   

   


 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

   

   

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

   

 

Grant Martin, 2nd from left, circa late 60s-early 70s in front of the Rainbow Bridge that led to Fairyland at Lowry Park. His twin brother Gary, his sister Lisa and brother (far right) Ray are also pictured. Grant is seen below posing in front of this photo at the exhibit.

 


Grant Martin poses for a photo in front of his photo at Fairyland some 47 years ago.

 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

   

   

   

   

   

 

In the photo above, the ones at upper left and lower right were contributed to TampaPix by Jeannette Tamborello and show her niece Staci Randall, 1992.  The other two were contributed to TampaPix by Jaime Kile and show Jamie circa 1990-91.

   

   

  

   

The photos at upper left and lower right of the four above were contributed to TampaPix by Yvonne Colado Garren.  They show her mother, brother and sister.  Her father, Hector Colado took these in 1958 using Kodak color slide film.  See larger.
 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding. 

 

In the photo above, the one at upper left was contributed to TampaPix by Tina Follick and shows her daughter, 1995.

   
 

 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

   

   

   

   

 

 

Many photos of the exhibit have been intentionally omitted as a courtesy to the museum.

The photos will be added when the exhibit has had sufficient time to attract visitors.

Thanks for understanding.

 

   

   
   
 
2017 April - 13 - Creative Loafing magazine published "Once Upon A Time: Fairyland Returns - A mothballed attraction gets a new lease on life" by Cathi Salustri
 


Photo provided by Nikki Chandler Couture

Once upon a time, Tampa had its first zoo on the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel, in Plant Park. It was a small zoo, and in the 1950s Mayor Nick Nuccio decided the animals needed more space. So the zoo was moved to the Seminole Heights area, where, ever since then, Tampa Bay’s kids could see all sorts of animals. But for a long time, they’d first walk across the Rainbow Bridge and enter Fairyland. It was, by all reports, a magical place filled with wondrous storybook legends — Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan, to name a few. Amid these life-sized nursery rhymes, people could ride a train past wild animals and see an African village.

This was the first Lowry Park Zoo, although in the 1960s we called it Tampa’s Lowry Park, period.

Today, the spider’s either not as scary or even creepier, depending on how you look at it: What scares you more, a giant spider with all its legs or a giant spider who has lost three legs and still lives?

The spider isn’t the only character who needs a little cosmetic surgery — the three little pigs needed new fingers (or any, really — they were missing when Gonzmart bought them). And Humpty Dumpty? Well, let’s simply say he fulfilled his destiny. And the aforementioned handless horseman for Cinderella’s carriage? If Gonzmart doesn’t get it restored by October, perhaps downtown’s The Vault can use it for their Elegant Evening of Fear.

The restoration, though, is well underway, even if it’s taking longer than everyone had hoped. Artist Jason Hulfish has already restored the three little pigs and started putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. The two remaining pig houses, though, suffered a setback when someone broke into them and caused more damage, Gonzmart says. Once Hulfish finishes those, he’ll move on to Jack and his beanstalk, and when the exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center ends in late May, those three scenes will come to Ulele: the Three Little Pigs (though the original wolf didn’t make an appearance at the auction, Hulfish will recreate him, Gonzmart says), Jack and the Beanstalk and Humpty Dumpty. “I want to put Humpty Dumpty on the roof of Ulele,” Gonzmart says. “He’s really big and I thought it would be a great way to showcase these figurines.”
 

From there, Hulfish will work his way through the remaining eight scenes. The not-so-itsy-bitsy spider will adorn the outside wall of Ulele. Cinderella’s carriage, if it can be made safe enough, will be set up so kids can climb inside and have their pictures taken with Cinderella. QR codes will accompany each scene, a modern touch for this vintage bit of Floridiana that will allow anyone to look back into Tampa’s history.

“This is all motivated by my youth, of going to Plant Park with my grandfather,” Gonzmart says. “It brings back memories for me, and I think it will create memories for generations.” Like his grandfather took him to Plant Park, he took his 7-year-old granddaughter, Amelia, to see the Fairyland characters at the workshop. “Pop-Pop, those are so cool,” she said, and begged him to return two more times.

The restoration, he admits, might take some time. “It won’t happen overnight — the weight and the size of the beanstalk has taken more time than imagined,” he says, but then allows: “It’s been how many years since they’ve been in place?” When people see them, he says “they’ll have no clue” how decrepit they looked when he bid on them in January.

He says he wants to revive history, inspire kids to read and make dreams come true. How much does making dreams come true cost? Or, more to the point, how much has it cost so far? “I don’t know, and it’s the God’s honest answer,” he says, laughing. “How can you put a price on memories? I’m not worried about it. It’s artwork; it’s history, I believe it’s a good investment. I’m not your average person, either.”

 

Saving Fairyland  -  Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5

Lowry Park/Fairyland History    Herman - King of the Zoo     Safety Village      Fantasia Golf