February 2024

JC Newman opened a park, paraded through Tampa while rolling cigars and Eric Newman got a lifetime achievement award.

Cigar Float

Tampa has two century-old traditions: The first cigars were rolled here in 1886.  Beginning in 1904, pirates have invaded Tampa in an annual celebration called Gasparilla.  The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates is reportedly the third largest parade in the USA. Last Saturday, hundreds of floats paraded down Bayshore Boulevard before 300,000 spectators.

J.C. Newman’s parade float is a replica of its historic, El Reloj cigar factory, which is the last traditional cigar factory still operating in the United States. While the float paraded through Tampa, spectators were able to watch a cigar roller on board hand roll José Gaspar cigars. In addition to longtime J.C. Newman employees, the float also carried the official 2023 Miss Tampa, Lindsey Franxman.

“Cigars and Gasparilla have been essential parts of Tampa’s identity for more than 100 years,” said Drew Newman, fourth generation owner. “We wanted to bring them together by rolling José Gaspar cigars as well as being featured in the Gasparilla parade.”

Although pirates have always smoked cigars along the parade route, cigar floats have been absent from the parade for many decades. The most recent photos of a cigar float in Gasparilla are from the 1960s.

“We hand rolled cigars on our float because we wanted to show all of the paradegoers the art and tradition of premium cigars.”

As long time members of the original Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, Eric and Bobby Newman road J.C. Newman’s parade float in full pirate gear.

My hope is that our J.C. Newman cigar float can participate in lots of parades in the years ago, and perhaps event attend the Premium Cigar Association trade show in Las Vegas,” said Newman.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Nicaraguan Chamber of Tobacco / Camara Nicaraguense de Tabacaleros honored Eric Newman with its Lifetime Achievement Award.  This award was presented at the Puro Sabor Festival’s White Dinner, which was held at the J.C. Newman PENSA factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Newman said that he was very surprised and humbled by this honored, and was very grateful to receive it surrounded by so many friends in the cigar industry.

Eric Newman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for 2024 in Estelí, Nicaragua

Cigar Workers Park

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and the Newman family cut the ribbon to open Cigar Workers Park. This new park is located across the street from J.C. Newman’s historic El Reloj factory in Tampa’s Ybor City National Historic Cigar District. In the presence of El Reloj’s cigar workers, the Newman family dedicated the park to the hundreds of thousands of people who have worked in Tampa’s cigar factories since 1886.

“Cigars are a natural agricultural product,” said fourth generation owner Drew Newman. “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 park’s pavilion was constructed from wood salvaged from a pre-Civil War tobacco barn owned by the Oliva Tobacco Company in Quincy, Florida. Wood planks from the barn were also used to form the illuminated fountain in the center of the park. The park features traditional Ybor City pavers and reclaimed Tampa bricks from the 1880s. Numerous oak, cypress, and holly trees were planted along with hundreds of native Florida plants. The park is also home to J.C. Newman’s bat houses, home to its colony of 5,000 bats.

“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.’”

Cigar Workers Park was designed by Rowe Architects, Conner Landscape Architects, and Common Bond Design, and was built by Specialized Services Group. It is free and open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week.

Leave a Reply

Latest from News ...

Tabacalera is releasing three new cigars, two limited edition releases for VegaFina and a brand-new...

February 2024

Club Macanudo is building an empire. The almost 30 year old Club Macanudo lounge, one...

February 2024

Tabacalera La Alianza, the Dominican factory where Ernesto Perez-Carrillo crafts his renowned cigars, including two...

February 2024

Cuba has introduced a new size to its Punch cigar line, the Punch Triunfos, a...

February 2024

The Stockholm-based private membership cigar club cigarklubben has send a cease and desist to a...

February 2024