Hispanic Heritage Month

Historic Ybor City walking tours take you back in time

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You can see it in the architecture, taste it in Cuban sandwiches, and smell it in the cigars in the air.  Historic Ybor City in Tampa is a culture rich in Cuban history.

“He wants to build what is a lasting legacy, something that will carry his name,” said Steven Stamberger as he walked past the old Centro Espanol.

Stamberger is not only a great storyteller, he’s a guide with Historic Walking Tours of Ybor, who helps to carry on the legacy of the city’s Cuban heritage through his tours. “We’re going to take you back in time. We’re going to take you to the casitas, the factory houses that Mr. Ybor will build and provide for all of the people who come to work here, and to live here. You’ll learn what life was like back then. It was a little harsh by today’s standards,” said Stamberger at the start of the walking tour.

The tour starts at the statue of Mr. Vicente Martinez Ybor, the founder of Ybor City, and creator of the legacy of the Cigar City. The 90-minute tour takes you back to the late 1800s. From the very first social club, Centro Español, to the Cuban Club, the tour gives a glimpse of how social clubs were the heart and soul of the community. “You’re entire personal life will be spent in your respective social club,” said Stamberger.

These days, many of the clubs have been turned into restaurants and other businesses. Walking through Ybor City you’ll see many pieces of history, even that no longer in operation. The tour also includes historic cigar factories, the State Museum, and a spot known to many Cubans as holy ground.

Jose Marti Park is the only plot of land in the United States owned by Cuba. “So it’s actually Cuban soil in each one of these round gardens,” Stamberger said as he pointed out the round gardens surrounding a statue of Jose Marti.

Marti is known as a Spanish Aristocrat who gave his famous speech from Ybor City, calling for the liberation of Cuba. “You’ll often see families that will purposely travel to Ybor City from all over the country to visit this park because this is holy ground,” said Stamberger. 

The tour offers a living history, waiting for people to explore. “We may not be Cuban, we may not be Spanish, but we all have a link to what went on here,” Stamberger said.

The tour costs $20 for adults, $10 for Children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. For more information click here.

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2 Columbus police officers arrested, facing charges of misconduct, ghost employment

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Two Columbus police officers have been arrested on multiple charges including official misconduct and ghost employment.

According to Indiana State Police, Dan Meister and Ron May were arrested for allegedly working off-duty security jobs while also working on duty with the Columbus Police Department. An investigation into the officers began in November 2018 after a request was made by the Columbus Police Department.

Lt. Dan Meister and Sgt. Ron May allegedly worked overlapping shifts for both the police department and Columbus Regional Hospital between February 2015 and August 2018. The officers were paid by CPD and the hospital for the same hours worked on multiple occasions.

Meister had overlapped hours on 52 different occasions and May overlapped on 62 occasions, investigators say.

The investigation was turned over to a special prosecutor and arrest warrants were issued for the men on Friday. They were arrested Friday afternoon without incident and taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, police say.

Both officers are facing charges of official misconduct, ghost employment and theft.

May and Meister are expected to face initial hearings soon.

Information about how long they have worked with CPD was not immediately available.

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