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Arts / Culture

St. Pete Pier Grand Opening Week Underway

City officials kicked off the new St. Pete Pier’s Grand Opening week Monday evening.

The pier is the eighth in city history, and is the centerpiece of a 26-acre district along the waterfront.

Attractions include a Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, three anchor restaurants, a marketplace featuring 17 vendors, a $1 million playground, and Janet Echelman’s $1.47 million “Bending Arc” sculpture.

Speakers at the opening included Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Dr. Kanika Tomalin, who delivered a rhyming tribute to the $92 million project that has taken three years to build.

Calling it “a district of delicious delight, of beachside bliss, of dancing water, of pelicans in flight,” Tomalin said the new Pier showed her it was possible to have “even more love” for St. Petersburg.

“This place is the evidence of our city’s individual and collective future,” Tomalin said. “And it’s amazing.”

Congressman Charlie Crist said the importance of the project goes far beyond the pier itself.

“It’s 26 acres, 500 trees. It’s a real point of pride for our city, for Tampa Bay, for our state,” Crist said. “It is iconic.”

The District was originally set to open in 2018. It was delayed until December 2019, then to May of this year – and finally to this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said, “Virus or no virus, there’s no better place to be than St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2020.”

Officials are requiring reservations this week to limit crowds. Free tickets will be issued online until Sunday at 8 p.m.; details on tickets and parking are available on the St. Pete Pier website.

Thay also recommend wearing a face mask at the Pier when social distancing is not possible.