WEST TAMPA – A free 1914-style street fair and program on New Year’s Day will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the West Tampa Branch Library.
The library, founded as the West Tampa Free Library on Jan. 1, 1914, was Hillsborough County’s first public library. This special event will recreate and honor the history and culture of West Tampa, then and now.
The event, open to the public, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at 2312 W. Union St. The West Tampa Branch Library is part of the West Tampa National Historic District and is a City of Tampa Historic Structure.
Margaret Rials, chief librarian with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, said the organizers found historical photographs of a 1914 street fair, from which they are basing the event.
The fair will include a balloon artist; games and crafts; Flamenco, opera and jazz performers; a popcorn cart and lemonade stand; cigar factory lector re-enactment and cigar-rolling demonstrations.
At 2:20 p.m. there will be special program with a bagpipe processional, remarks by community leaders, a centennial birthday cake and coffee, and an appearance by “Andrew Carnegie,” portrayed by actor Mike Norton of Norton Interactive Comedy.
It was the Carnegie Foundation that funded the library, one of only 10 in Florida at the time, Rials said.
She said it “very unusual” for the library to have an event on a major holiday; the main library and branches are usually closed.
The organizers believe the dedication was held on New Year’s Day in 1914 because West Tampa had a sizable Scottish population at that time – Carnegie was Scottish.
“This is a significant milestone and we wanted it on the actual date,” Rials said. “Jan. 1 is the biggest holiday for the Scottish people,” she said.
This event kicks off the yearlong Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries’ Centennial Celebration, with the theme Changing Lives, Transforming Communities.
For information about activities, click here.