By Kathy L. Collins
The Tampa Bay History Center’s newest exhibit, JFK in Tampa; The Exhibition, marks the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Tampa. This is a limited engagement exhibit which is available now through Sunday, December 8.
Tens of thousands of people turned out to watch President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade roll slowly down Grand Central Avenue (now known as Kennedy Boulevard). The crowd was excited to catch a glimpse of JFK, the first sitting president ever to visit Tampa. People were not aware they were about to become part of history. They were not aware of the death threats JFK had received during his stay, or the tragedy that lay ahead just four days later in Dallas.
JFK in Tampa: The Exhibition, which opened on November 8, captures the tension and joy of President Kennedy’s visit to Tampa in 1963. The exhibit features exclusive rare film footage of the president while in Tampa, the podium he used while delivering a speech at the International Inn, as well as photographs, home movies, newspaper headlines and oral histories from Tampa residents who saw and visited with the president. The exhibition also includes uniforms and badges from the Tampa Police Museum and notes from the Secret Service “Kennedy Detail,” which were used while escorting the President around the city.
JFK in Tampa: The Exhibition is presented in conjunction with the documentary film JFK in Tampa: The 50th Anniversary produced by author Lynn Marvin Dingfelder. According to representatives of the Tampa Bay History Center, like the documentary, the exhibition is not about conspiracy theories on President Kennedy’s assassination. Instead, it is a time capsule that captures a moment in Tampa’s history and the people that were a part of it. For them, and for the entire city, it was an emotional and magical day.
The Tampa Bay History Center is located at 801 Old Water St., in Tampa. For more information on JFK in Tampa: The Exhibition and on other upcoming exhibits, please visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org or call 228-0097.