On April 1, local marketing agency Visit St. Pete/Clearwater spread word about a “rare marine mammal” that had been spotted off our coast, and their story about the “manaphin” — a manatee-dolphin hybrid — was reposted by news outlets around the world. The agency went so far as to create a mock website dedicated to the manaphin, replete with tacky graphics and misspellings. VSPC officials pulled the prank to show the world a fun, personal side of the St. Pete/Clearwater brand, and it seems to have worked: Yahoo! and ABC News praised the hoax as one of the top pranks in the world, and the UK news website Telegraph.co.uk rated it 7 out of 10, placing it in a tie for its highest-scoring April Fool’s prank of 2014. VisitStPeteClearwater.com
Don Zimmer was one of the few Yankee or Red Sox players that Rays fans adored, and that’s because the effervescent, super-cuddly “Zim Bear” spent 10 years on our side as a coach and advisor. Zim — who died in June at the age of 83 — got a touching tribute when Rays broadcaster Todd Kalas announced his death during a game against the Miami Marlins. “I felt like I was getting a gift every time we talked,” Kalas said as he choked back tears. “Really sad news.” Deadspin ran this video clip of his remarks.
Runners-up: St. Pete Beach, Pass-A-Grille
Runners-up: St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island
Runners-up: Jill Kelley, Mystery Monkey
Runners-up: Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin
“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual.” Those were the words of Judge Luis Garcia of the Monroe County Circuit Court, whose July ruling was the first in a slew of similar decisions by “activist judges” that may eventually wind up toppling the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Fun fact to rub in the face of John Stemberger Republicans: Garcia was appointed by Republican Governor Jeb Bush.
Runners-up: Water Works Park, more breweries
Runners-up: Tampa, Clearwater
Runners-up: Vinoy Park (St. Petersburg), Crescent Lake Park (St. Petersburg)