On Tuesday, January 23rd, J.C. Newman Cigar Company opened Cigar Workers Park in the Ybor City area of Tampa, Florida with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Cigar Workers Park is dedicated to the workers of cigar factories throughout Tampa’s rich history. The new park is one of a series of initiatives J.C. Newman has been taking to redevelop the north end of Ybor City, where its El Reloj factory and headquarters are located. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and the Newman family cut the ribbon to open Cigar Workers Park. The opening was just in time for Tampa’s Gasparilla celebrations scheduled for January 27th and 28th. Cigar Workers Park is right across the street from the El Reloj factory.
“Cigars are a natural agricultural product,” said fourth-generation owner Drew Newman in a press release. “By building a small park, my family and I hope that we can show the connection between cigars and nature and improve our neighborhood for residents, visitors, and our wonderful staff. After taking a tour of our factory, exploring our cigar museum, and taking a cigar-rolling class, our new park is a perfect place for visitors to relax and enjoy a J.C. Newman cigar.”
The company started its revitalization initiative by renovating its El Reloj factory and then offering factory tours to the public. Since then, the company has added several classes, including blending and cigar rolling. Moreover, the company is working on restoring the Sanchez y Haya property across the street from J.C. Newman. The Sanchez y Haya initiative will result in a hotel, restaurant, and cigar lounge. When the renovation started, the company relocated a colony of bats that occupied the building to bat houses placed in Cigar Workers Park. In the future, J.C. Newman plans to open a tobacco farm in the area where the company will grow its own tobacco.
“It takes a tremendous amount of skill and dedication to roll cigars,” said Newman. “Rarely does anyone who enjoys a cigar get to see and thank the people who roll them. By dedicating this park to the cigar workers of Tampa, my family and I want to show our appreciation for their tireless work in making Tampa famous as the ‘Fine Cigar Capital of the World’ and ‘Cigar City.’”
The pavilion at Cigar Workers Park was constructed using wood salvaged from a pre-Civil War tobacco barn owned by the Oliva Tobacco Company in Quincy, Florida. It features traditional Ybor City pavers, reclaimed Tampa bricks from the 1880s, and an illuminated fountain created from wood blanks from the barn at the center. There are various native Florida plants, as well as oak, cypress, and holly trees, planted in it. The bat houses in the park are home to a colony of 5,000 bats. Cigar Workers Park is free and open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, seven days a week.
Photo Credits: J.C. Newman Cigar Company