It’s possible that no one told Icecube the manatee that the 30th anniversary/5 millionth-visitor celebration at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center isn’t until March 16. Then again, when you’re all healed up and ready to get straight outta manatee rehab hospital, why wait?
That was the scene March 6 as Icecube took his place among the many honored guests at the center over the years who have arrived by U-Haul truck to a cheering crowd. Rescued in 2015 suffering from cold stress, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and the South Florida Museum nursed him back to health. And on Monday, before dozens of cameras and to rapturous applause, he swam free into the clean, warm-water discharge canal that straddles the Manatee Viewing Center and our Big Bend Power Station, source of more than 1,700 megawatts of reliable power, generated with environmental responsibility, for people across West Central Florida.
(Across the street, incidentally, the largest solar array in Tampa Bay is now operational…but Icecube presumably has other things on his mind, considering how everything had worked out.)
As for the big celebration on March 16, who knows? Maybe he’ll be on hand (on flipper?) for that as well. What’s clear is that you should make plans to attend as the center recognizes its latest milestone in a journey that started with a simple place to stand by the shoreline to see manatees up close in 1986. Now, in its 30th season, the world-renowned Manatee Viewing Center is a living, breathing and growing representation of so many things that Tampa Electric and the community value about West Central Florida’s unique ecosystem.
From our network of nature trails to our new rays touch tank to our gardens and our wildlife observation tower – and to the Florida Conservation and Technology Center, just to the south, growing right along with us – the Manatee Viewing Center is a place like no other.
On March 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., it will hold a celebration like no other, at a sanctuary for manatees like no other in this area.
If March 6 was a good day for Icecube as he swam back into nature, every day at the Manatee Viewing Center – and March 16 especially – should be a good day for you, your friends, neighbors, people of all ages and the whole family.