16:39 PM

Winner of TPA's Name the Flamingo contest visits TPA, collects prizes

Weeks ago, Bryan M. was reading an online newsletter when he spotted an item about Tampa International Airport's Name the Flamingo contest, which immediately piqued his interest. 

“I thought I should try to enter a name that gave a nod to the scientific name for a flamingo,” Bryan said. "I submitted ‘Phoebe’ with the following reason: A play on Phoenicopterus - the flamingo’s scientific name ‘Phoebe’ is also a playful alliterative to flamingo and means brilliantly inquisitive. The overall ‘Home’ sculpture is literally brilliant and reveals the flamingo’s inquisitiveness as it hunts for food in the shallows.” flamingo2

Bryan is a retiree who spent his entire career in higher education. He primarily served institutions throughout Florida before finishing his career at a private college in Kansas. After retiring, Bryan returned to Florida, settling in Daytona Beach Shores with his family. 

In late December, Bryan received an email from TPA  informing him that his submission in the contest had been one of the three chosen by a panel of Airport judges.

“I couldn't believe it,” Bryan said. “I knew there were a lot of entries, but to hear that mine had been one of the three selected from the more than 65,000 submissions? It was unreal." 

TPA opened up voting to the public on the final three names in early January. After several days of voting, the contest finished with more than 37,000 votes cast. Phoebe received 16,122 votes to Cora's 14,341 and Finn's 6,779 votes. 

“One morning, I was sitting at home relaxing and my phone rang," Bryan said. “TPA called me to let me know that my entry had won the most votes and that I was the winner of the contest. I was blown away and so excited.” flamingo3

As the winner of the Name the Flamingo contest, Bryan was invited to a meet-and-greet event on Jan. 25 at the flamingo sculpture – formally titled “HOME" by artist Matthew Mazzotta – where Busch Gardens and Silver Airways would present their prizes. He decided to make the hours-long drive across the state to finally meet Phoebe.

“I left my house at 4:30 a.m., knowing that morning rush hour traffic could be tough," he said. "The drive was totally worth it, however.” 

On his way to TPA, Bryan stopped by his childhood home in East Tampa, just a few blocks away from Busch Gardens.

“It's still there after all these years,” Bryan said. “My elementary school in Tampa is no longer there, but I'm so glad I stopped by my home to reminisce upon my time in Tampa.” 

After arriving at TPA, Bryan took some time to soak in the views of the 21-foot sculpture he had named. “While I sat there, so many people came by the flamingo,” Brian said. “Families, groups and couples alike – almost no one missed their chance to take a selfie with Phoebe."

flamingo1Busch Gardens presented Bryan with four VIP passes to the park, including four All Day-Dining passes, four Quick Queue Unlimited passes and preferred parking. Silver Airways awarded Bryan with four roundtrip tickets. 

When asked what he planned to do with his prize package, Bryan beamed.

“My son lives in Kansas and has never been to an amusement park or flown on an airplane," he said. "I'm going to fly him down to New Orleans, meet him there, and then travel with him and his family to Tampa. I can't wait to take them to Busch Gardens before driving them over to Daytona Beach Shores for a mini-family reunion. But before we do any of that, we'll be sure to stop by Phoebe for a family photo."