ST. PETERSBURG – Born and bred in St. Pete, William Walker started a business out of love for his hometown.
“It is the prettiest city around,” Walker, 52, said.
As owner of the local tour company Skyway Tours and Charters, Walker has been given bus tours throughout the St. Pete area since last year. The tours bring the eager on an historical tour through downtown. He takes passengers through downtown from its mural lined streets, local breweries and wineries up to the beaches.
His goal, Walker said, is getting tourists and locals the feel of the city through its history.
“Without the history, you don’t know why we’re here,” he said. “Keeping history going is our goal.”
Walker strives to meld local history with entertainment. He remembers the five-and-dime business stores, the green benches and watching many Blaxploitation films such as “Blacula” and “Coffy” at the State Theatre on Central Avenue. Though just a kid, Walker recalls the street vividly when driving down them.
“Just the memory of watching “Blackenstein” helps give a lived-in experience,” he said.
Most of his passengers come from out-of-state eager to see the city, while residents help out with their own insights like the old St. Pete High School on Mirror Lake Drive that still has its former title posted in the building.
“This kind of feedback also helps enrich the tour,” Walker said.
Walker has scheduled an end of summer party Sept. 16 to bring the community together and to show them not just the city’s outward scenery, but the beauty of its roots as well.
“It’s a coming out party,” Walker said. “I want to give St. Pete something to do.”
He’s calling it the “End of Summer Groove”, and will be held on a three-deck, 180-foot Starship Dining Cruise on Tampa Bay. The party will have three live entertainment performances, one on each floor.
“Three parties all in one,” Walker said. “We will mix old school jam with the new school sexy.”
The first floor gets the party mood going with old school funk provided by local DJ party starter aka DarknLovely of club Atlanta.
The second floor starts to sing with a live performance from local singer Cleo Heart and her band, accompanied by DJ Spice playing soca/reggae music in the other.
The third floor will be set off on the upper deck, where DJ Bstackz will be captivating the line dance energy and line dancers from all over the state will be stepping out as they cruise around Tampa Bay.
Walker hopes the party will help establish his company by bringing out older folks into the bay. Another goal, Walker said, is that younger people can socialize with the older folks.
“We are looking for a mature party here,” he said.
If the “End of Summer Groove” yacht party is successful, Walker plans to continue having yacht parties at the end of each season.
“There is fun for everyone,” he said.
The yacht will be stationed at the Port of St. Pete on 250 8th Ave. S.E. Boarding time begins at 9 p.m. and the yacht sets sails at 9:30 onto the bay. The party will continue until 1 a.m.
General admission is $49, with group rates available for $39 for five or more people. VIP tickets are $75. Tickets must be purchased in advance online.
Tickets are available online at http://y2kyacht.eventbrite.com. For more info or schedule a tour, call 727-520-2968 or 850-212-5712. Visit Skyway Tours website at www.stpetetour.com