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Ybor City Ghost Tour


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    Statue of Don Ybor
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    Musings: Authors do it Write!

    Published 10-22-2021

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    Max Herman of Official Ybor City Ghost Tours introduced me to his "friend," Don Vicente Martinez de Ybor, the cigar entrepreneur who founded Ybor City in 1886. Of course, the "friend" is just a bronze statue, but without him, Ybor City would not exist. Ybor City is like a city within a city. It has some of the most haunted building in America. It's one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Max led me on a terrific ghost tour of Ybor City. The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour is so good it's ranked #1 ghost tour on US City Traveler. One thing that differentiates it from other tours is you go into some buildings, not just look from outside. In addition, my guide told a lot of authentic Ybor City history.

    Spanish Club

    We visited Centro Espanol, the Spanish Club. Now in Ybor City, clubs had a different meaning than a nightclub or a health club today, although in some ways they served both purposes. Ybor City was the "Cigar Capital of the World." Although Don Ybor brought many Cuban workers here to work his factory, many other immigrants came because here jobs were plentiful. The city was filled with Cubans, Spaniards, Romanian Jews, Sicilians, Italians, Germans, and more. Each immigrant mingled daily with other nationalities, but on Sundays and in evenings, they each had their own clubs. They paid about a quarter a week. This provided them with not only a place to socialize, dance, gamble, and enjoy entertainment, but also had a doctor on staff in case of illness. Think about that. A quarter a week for health care? Who wouldn't join for that alone?
    safe at Spanish club

    Max told of the night in 1908 when a fire broke out in the Spanish Club. A group of 18 somewhat shady citizens was in one room. The mayor's assistant, head police chief, and members of the organized crime family were meeting there. They had pushed a large safe in front of the door, probably for privacy. When the fire exploded, they could not push the safe away. One of them even shot the safe trying to get out. All 18 perished. The safe, with its bullet hole, is still there in the lobby. Today, workers in the improv Club next door and those in the Centro building hear screams coming from that room.

    Another interesting spot with a history and a tragic love story is now a place called Cerealholic, a cross between a kid's slumber party upstairs and a speakeasy downstairs. However, at one time, it was a Catholic Church. I don't want to spoil the surprise if you take the tour, but it's here in the basement a tragic murder left a spirit behind. Max showed me a video of an apparition that happened there to one of the workers.
    Man with teanis ball at Cuban Club

    The most beautiful and most haunted stop was the Cuban Club named by The Travel Channel as one of its Top 10 Most Haunted Places in America. It is gorgeous. It also had something none of the other clubs had, a swimming pool. The pool was the scene of tragic drowning of a little eight-year-old boy. He still plays there. Visitors often bring him balls and toys.
    stage at cuban club

    The classic theater upstairs has its spirit resident as well. A talented young actor who experienced stage fright for his first play. His friends in the audience booed and left. He then repeated the play perfectly and ended by hanging himself on the stage.
    cuban club

    One more interesting fact about the club has nothing to do with ghosts except the spirit of racial inequality that still haunts us. This Cuban club was officially for the white Cubans. There was another club for the Black Cubans, however, at night when much of the city was asleep, Black Cubans would come to this club and were welcomed just like any other Cubans.

    this is just a touch of the tour. To appreciate the tour, you really need to experience it yourself. It is unbeatable.






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