The New Foursquare Mayors of Tampa and their Journey
by Ashley Ray
As I’m sure you already know, Tampa was where Foursquare Day got its start – with an optometrist who understands the value of using social media. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, the owner of Bright Eyes Tampa
“was thinking of different ways to use Foursquare as a business. I then thought about the hook of 4/16 as a date [note: get it? 4/16 is four-squared.] and it made sense to organize a meetup on the same day. As I explained it to people, they instantly got it” – he said to Forbes in 2010 when Foursquare Day officially launched.
Jump ahead to 2012 – as Foursquare Day has taken hold in cities all over the country and the world! For Nathan, this year was different because the whole community stepped up to get involved. There was a midnight party McDonalds with 93.3, a free breakfast and massage event at IKEA, dozens of check-in specials across the city, the Mayor’s Scavenger Hunt downtown and a party at Taps with a real Four Square game!
Nate told me, “Foursquare Day was a success and the most fun I’ve had personally”. This is because this year the community really came together. “There were events spread out all throughout the city and all throughout the day” Nate said.
So how did we become the Foursquare Mayors of Tampa?
We attended the Mayor’s Scavenger Hunt downtown. At 2:30, a small crowd of Foursquare nerds, a few media people, and Nate and his team met at Curtis Hixon Park to hear the details from the Mayor himself on the scavenger hunt they were about to embark on. There were 5 keys to the city hidden in various places downtown and our mission was to find them all (check in to prove we were there) and make it back to the Mayors office first to be proclaimed the official Foursquare Mayors of Tampa!
The first clue:
The Ballywho team (Ashley, Sarah, Nitsa and Justine) raced off to find the first key, which was hidden at the Sail Pavilion on the River Walk and found by Nitsa who jumped up and down in delight when she discovered it! The second clue was at the famous Irish Pub, Four Green Fields where we met some pretty interesting characters and ended up behind in the race!
The Third Clue:
“The President rode down Grand Central Ave four days before his untimely death. He now looks upon the road renamed for him in a park dedicated to a man who built one of Tampa’s most iconic buildings”
That was Henry B. Plany park and the key was at the statue of Kennedy overlooking Kennedy Avenue.
“How could anyone ever do this before cellphones?” Nate told me after it was all said and done. We met up with his team at the Kennedy statue as both of our teams were REALLY stumped by the next clue!
The Fourth Clue:
“Named for a tiny flowering plant that grows in Florida, this small market recieved a warm welcome from downtown residents”
Thank goodness for smart phones! Sarah Googled flower shops in downtown and we found our next spot: The Duckweed Urban Market! This market was the first downtown grocery store (we learned from a Tampa Bay Times article we found on Google).
The Fifth Clue:
“At this point I bet you’ve worked up an appetite! Swing by one of my favorite healthy lunch spots for a salad, sandwich or custom made cereal bowl.”
This is where we left the Bright Eyes team in the dust! They headed to Cafe Hey, but thanks to Justine – who had just recently eaten there – we found our last key at Fresh!
To the Mayor’s Office!
Off we went to the City of Tampa Municiple building to hopefully claim our Mayorships! We were sweaty, thirsty, and some of us were injured but we were nothing but smiles as we discovered we were the first ones there! Mayor Buckhorn came out, talked to us for a bit and signed the official proclamation! What a day! What a memory! What a Mayor!
What most people miss about Foursquare is all of its capabilities. It’s not just about becoming the mayor of a place, or being ahead in the leader board among your friends, or even creating specials for your business – it’s about the community that is created around this addictive social platform.
There is something to be said about the Mayor’s Foursquare Scavenger Hunt and his willingness to embrace social media – he gets it. Not only has he created a Foursquare page that shows off the best places in Tampa - he’s reached out to the techie community and shown that he cares. In doing so – he’s really extended his reach and amplified the voice of people who love and support this beautiful city. As we roamed around the city looking for keys and clues, we were tweeting about it, posting it on Facebook, talking to people about it in person and most importantly learning more about the very city we live in! Mayor Buckhorn not only created chatter online, he educated us (and hopefully our readers too), amplified the reach of his message and highlighted some great businesses within the community.
I spoke with Nate after Foursquare Day was all said and done and he was very pleased with the success of the entire day.
“I was excited the Mayor was so supportive and involved. To me, Foursquare Day is a way we get people out in the community and highlight businesses in the community.”
The BallywhoSocial team will be glowing about this day for a while AND planning how we can make an impact and be involved in Foursquare Day 2013! What did YOU do on Foursquare Day? Let us know by leaving a comment.