Guavaween

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Guavaween is an annual Latin-flavored Halloween celebration which takes place on the last Saturday of October in the historic neighborhood of Ybor City on Tampa, Florida. It is named after Tampa's nickname, "The Big Guava".

Since its inception more than 20 years ago, Guavaween has become one of the largest festivals in Ybor. The daylight hours are family-oriented and in the past have included such activities as a costume contest, scavenger hunt, safe trick-or-treat at Centro Ybor, food and amusement rides. Around dusk the Mama Guava Stumble Parade, Guavaween's most popular attraction, makes its way down Seventh Avenue, the main street in Ybor. The parade, led by Mama Guava, features floats and costumed individuals who throw candy and beads to the spectators.

History[edit]

Historical roots[edit]

In the 1880s, Spanish-born and New York-based Gavino Gutierrez came to the area to search for wild guava trees that might be cultivated commercially. He didn't find usable trees, but he liked the small town of Tampa. After leaving the area, Gutierrez stopped by Key West to visit his friend, cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Ybor was looking for a place to relocate his prosperous business, and Gutierrez recommended Tampa. Ybor took his advice and eventually founded Ybor City, helping Tampa grow from a small village to a bustling city over the next few decades.

Referencing this local history in the 1970s, local newspaper columnist Steve Otto planted the idea that if New York City is the "Big Apple", then Tampa must be the "Big Guava". The nickname stuck.[1]

Early Guavaween[edit]

According to a well known area artist and college professor of art, prior to Mama Guava and Guavaween, many (then) young artists were sharing loft spaces in an old closed cigar factory in the late 1970s and decided to throw a large Halloween party and charge all who attended $1.00. The party was a success and the artists continued the party in subsequent years and the crowds grew as word spread. Somehow from the artist's original Halloween Parties, Guavaween s well as the first Artists and Writers Ball evolved. The first Artists and Writers Ball was given at the Cuban Club in their courtyard. The Tampa Tribune was the sponsor of that affair which featured many bands and entertainers. It was a giant success as people from all walks of life joined together, sharing tables, eating, drinking and dancing the night away. [1]

The Artists and Writers Ball did not originally start from these Halloween Parties, but started as an underground alternative to Gasparilla. The Artists and Writers Group (Bud Lee, Peggy Lee, David Audet, Paul Wilborn, Beverly Coe and Bebe Williams) was the impetus behind The Artists and Writers Ball.[2] It was traditionally held in early February around the time of Gasparilla.

Events[edit]

The celebration attracts over 100,000 people from all over the world and not only features the stumble parade, costume contest and live national and local concerts, but has become a full day of fun for folks of all ages. Guavaween Family FunFest fills the streets between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. offering exciting activities for the young and old alike. Activities include a scavenger hunt, safe trick-or-treating, live music, food, rides, contests and the Children's Costume Contest and Parade.

For twenty years, the ornately decorated Mama Guava has led her loyal band of followers and revelers in the Mama Guava Stumble Parade. Mama Guava claims stake to "taking the 'bore' out of Ybor." After 4:00 p.m., Mama Guava welcomes her adult revelers and the evening party gets under way. Guavaween is a party that acts as the primary fundraiser for the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. Guavaween serves to preserve Tampa's oldest city.

It is quite common for both adults and children to attend Guavaween in costume. Things tend to become more risqué during the evening hours. Parking can be extremely difficult in Ybor during Guavaween. Shuttle buses run from Florida State Fairgrounds, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Port Authority, and University of South Florida Sun Dome.

References[edit]

Photos of day activities[edit]

Guavaween Kids Day Activities

External links[edit]