On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, 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.