Tampa to Tampa: Tampa, KS travels to Tampa Bay, FL

95 out of 100 Tampa, KS residents went on an all-expenses paid trip to Tampa, FL. last week from Dec. 5-8.
Ethan Oborny eventually figured out that boots are not a good idea for the beach. He appeared to enjoy his first visit to the ocean and beach.
Shaina Schafer and Cassidy Oborny enjoyed some fun Starbucks beverages in Tampa Bay last week.

Last week, the tiny town of Tampa, KS made national news when 95 of the 100 residents got to experience the trip of a lifetime.

Visit Tampa Bay based in Tampa, Florida flew the entire town of Tampa, Kansas (or at least 95 out of 100 residents) to visit Tampa by the Bay from Monday, Dec. 5 to Thursday, Dec 8.

There were a total of 95 making the trip, 30 of them children and many making their first flight on an airplane.

The group had a meet and greet with the Visit Tampa Bay representatives at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Santa Fe Trail Cafe at 303 Main in Tampa, Kansas.

The trip included charter bus pickup and return to Tampa, flight to Florida and back, hotel, attractions such as Busch Gardens, Tampa Zoo, Riverwalk, etc. and so much more.

Tampa, Kansas mayor Tim Svoboda said, “We thank Visit Tampa Bay for this incredible opportunity. Our Tampa is unique as it is thriving with young families. They want to live here because they know their neighbors, they care for each other and know their families are part of a close-knit community. This generous opportunity will provide a lifetime of memories.”

Tampa Pride Committee member Amy Richmond said, “When Vanessa with Visit Tampa Bay first reached out to us in June, we thought it was a scam. It wasn’t until she sent us her business card and we did some research that we realized this was legit. We never imagined it would be our once-in-a-lifetime trip.”

The lady visited Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 4 where the town held a meet and greet with food and drinks. “Our trip then started with a warm welcome as soon as our plane landed. Employees with Tampa International Airport, Southwest Airlines and Visit Tampa Bay all greeted us with welcome signs and smiles. We then headed to our hotel for a welcome party where we met the City of Tampa Bay’s Mayor, mascots, pirates and other great people,” said Richmond.

On Tuesday afternoon, the group headed to Busch Gardens to explore the park and their Christmas Town celebration. They held a welcome reception with Santa, food and gifts when the residents of Tampa, KS arrived.

Richmond said, “On Wednesday morning, we were off to Zoo Tampa for Christmas in the Wild. It was fun to see all the animals and feel so welcome. That afternoon we had a chance to explore downtown and the Tampa Riverwalk where there were endless attractions and activities provided for us. On Wednesday evening, we headed to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to enjoy their Winter Village. Several of our group members enjoyed ice skating and walking the Riverwalk. It was such an incredible experience for our entire group. This amazing trip wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Visit Tampa Bay and its partners. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I know many of our group members will visit again.”

Residents Cassidy and Ethan Oborny went on the trip and had a great time.

“We left Monday at 5 a.m. to get to the airport so our two groups could fly out by 10:30 a.m. The night we got to Florida, they threw us a welcome to Tampa Bay party. Tuesday we got the morning to ourselves, we opted to go to the beach, then that afternoon we went to Busch Gardens. While there, they provided us a light lunch when we arrived and a meal voucher to use,” said Cassidy.

Neither Ethan or Cassidy had been to the beach before then. In fact, not knowing any better, Ethan wore his boots to the beach but quickly discovered that was not the smartest call. The couple adjusted though and soon had a great time.

“We enjoyed it so much the two hours we had Tuesday morning, we ended up going there all day Wednesday, and we ate fresh seafood and we can officially say we have been sunburnt in December. Being around 80-85 degree weather while there, the ocean felt more like the reservoir in the middle of summer, chilly at first but hot once you got out. The beach there was pure white and felt like flour beneath your feet,” said Cassidy.

The Obornys said that Wednesday was the day they went to the Tampa Zoo and the water taxi, which came with a pass to museums along the Bay.

Cassidy said, “That evening we went ice skating and they had pop up shops there! Thursday we flew home, and we were home by 8 p.m.”

The couple’s favorite event they did was Busch Gardens.

“With the meal voucher we chose to eat supper with the giraffes. I highly recommend going there, between all the animals and rides, we spent all day there and didn’t run out of things to do,” said Cassidy.

Tampa resident and Marion County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Mueller also went on the trip.

“What an incredible opportunity. We were treated like VIPs from start to finish! Tampa Bay weather, people and attractions were unbelievable. Look at the faces of the kids in the pictures. That says it all,” said Mueller. “The generosity of Visit Tampa Bay was amazing! Many of us are making plans to go back.”

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