Christopher Spata, Features Writer

Christopher Spata

Features Writer

I'm focused on the offbeat side of life. I love stories about people pursuing unusual goals, and what drives them. I've written about retirees attending Santa Claus School, competitors at the World Sign Spinning Championships and an optician rebuilding old Chuck E. Cheese robots in his bedroom. I'm also looking for hyper-local culture stories, from tracing the global path plastic beads take to Tampa's Gasparilla festival, to pondering mysterious butt graffiti in downtown St. Pete. I also contribute to our entertainment and Things To Do coverage. I previously worked for the Tampa Tribune and Ocala Star-Banner. I'm a rare, native-born Floridian, and collect all things Floridiana, from alligator ash trays to vintage postcards for roadside attractions. I say Florida isn't "weird," just more interesting.

Evander Preston, jeweler and beach bum of Pass-a-Grille, dies

Evander Preston inside his gallery Evander Preston Contemporary Jewelry Design in Pass-a-Grille. The portrait of Preston (left, top) was done by Adam Terkel. The carved wooden sculpture of a white dinner jacket to Preston's right was done by Tampa artist Fraser Smith. Preston died on Sept. 14. Times (2007)
His gallery and his eccentric presence have been a constant in the St. Pete Beach area for decades.

Could competitive video gaming be the next big thing in Tampa Bay?

A summit at USF brought together major players and explored the possibility of an esports arena.

Vice’s ‘WTFlorida?!’ 'goes deeper’ on Florida Man fired for flatulence

A still image from Vice's
Short documentaries on Floridians like hurricane headbanger Lane Pittman and Polk security guard “Paul Flart” expand their stories.

Is Wrinkles the Clown real? Documentary explores creepy Florida clown

An image from the poster for Magnolia Pictures' documentary
The real-life creepy clown sightings phenomenon is back in a new movie. We talked to the director.

Longest acrylic nails? Tampa’s Odilon Ozare sets Guinness record

Odilon Ozare poses for a photo with his Guinness world record-setting acrylic nails at Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe in Tampa. Courtesy of Guinness World Records 2020
The mysterious man behind the world’s tallest hat has a new world record for nails, and a nearly full-page spread in the ’Guinness World Records’ 2020 book.