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tin_can_tourists_helped_boost_sarasota_economy [2018/04/06 02:28]
tin_can_tourists_helped_boost_sarasota_economy [2018/09/12 20:25] (current)
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 +Author: Ann A. Shank, former County Historian
  
 +Source: Sarasota County History Center
 +
 +The Tin Can Tourists of the World organized at DeSoto Park in Tampa after World 
 +War I and had a major impact on tourism in Sarasota, especially in the 1930s. Their 
 +membership card listed their purposes: to unite fraternally all auto campers, to provide ​
 +clean and wholesome entertainment at all campfires and to help enforce the rules 
 +governing all camp grounds. Their emblem was a tin can worn on the front of the car.
 +A local group of Tin Can Tourists organized in January 1921 with eleven members. The 
 +title of their presiding officer was "Chief Tin Can Opener."​ While Tin Canners came to 
 +Sarasota during the 1920s, staying in a number of auto camps around the city, it was not 
 +until 1932 that Sarasota hosted the winter convention of the TCT.
 +
 +In 1931 Mayor E.A. Smith and other community leaders decided to lure the annual TCT 
 +convention away from Arcadia, where it had been conducted for a number of years. A
 +motorcade of nearly 250 cars drove from Sarasota to Arcadia, parking in the camp. 
 +Carrying banners inviting the TCT to Sarasota, community leaders distributed free 
 +copies of the Sarasota Herald and gave speeches promoting the change in venue. The 
 +Sarasota Bay Post 30 American Legion Band presented a concert to the 2,000 campers. ​
 +When the vote was counted, Sarasota had won the contest.
 +
 +From 1932 to 1938 the winter TCT convention met in Sarasota, just east of the Payne 
 +Park ball field. Several thousand campers attended each year and participated in a 
 +variety of activities. The annual TCT parade along Main Street included trailers from the 
 +modern to the historic, floats representing the camper'​s home states, clowns and a 
 +number of bands.
 +
 +While business meetings were scheduled several times during the week, more time was 
 +devoted t having fun. There were horseshoe and shuffleboard contests, baseball, boxing, ​
 +wrestling and field sports. For those who preferred to sit, there were competitions in 
 +bridge, 500 and pinochle.
 +
 +The TCT prided itself on the high standards of conduct for its members. Rules in their 
 +camps prohibited the use of liquor, firearms, open fires, vile language or disorderly ​
 +conduct. Dishwater was not to be thrown on or around shrubbery. Quiet was kept 
 +between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
 +
 +Although the "tin can" name had been considered a joke by both the members and 
 +public in the organization'​s early days, by the time the Tin Canners met in Sarasota, the 
 +name was taken seriously. Not only did it stand for tourists who cared for their camps, it 
 +also represented people who contributed much to the local economy. Businesses placed ​
 +large display ads in the Sarasota Herald during the TCT convention and the Sarasota ​
 +Merchants Association offered free bus shuttle service between the TCT grounds and 
 +Five Points.
 +
 +Although the TCT is no longer around, Payne Park continued to invite and attract the 
 +tourist and resident alike. For many years, Payne Park was home to the Sarasota Mobile ​
 +Home Park, a hub of activity for east and central Sarasota. The mobile home park was 
 +closed several years ago, and in 2008, Payne Park reopened with much fanfare as an 
 +extensive recreational park, delighting visitors and residents alike.