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Big Day of Hope

ISLAND ESTATES - “It's a great day to have a sequel right here,” affirmed Governor Rick Scott, following Clearwater Marine Aquarium's CEO David Yates' announcement of a highly-anticipated sequel to Dolphin Tale, the box-office hit starring our tailless dolphin, Winter.  On the afternoon of July 26th various dignitaries, including city and state representatives, and CMA board members and volunteers, assembled in the Bright House Theatre to applaud what Yates called “a big day for CMA, the city, county, and state.” He noted that “rarely have there been sequels for a real-life movie.”  The scheduled release date for Dolphin Tale 2 is September 19th of next year.
The Governor spoke about (state) government's responsibilities to see what could be done, and done well; tourism being one of them.  In what has become a familiar theme, he asserted, “My job is to get people to work.”  He surmised that the 91 million tourists who came to Florida last year translated to lots of jobs, assuming a standard ratio of one job created for every 85 tourists. 
Many of those came to visit Winter. Reportedly, last year 750,000 people visited the CMA; seventy-three percent of them came because of the movie, Dolphin Tale, and most of them from out of state.  Scott was pleased to bestow the Governor's Business Ambassador Award upon Yates, in acknowledgement of his efforts to promote business and employment opportunities for Floridians.  And as for the $5 million of state funds recently approved for marketing and production of the sequel, it will absolutely yield a good return on investment, declared the optimistic Scott, who anticipates an economic yield of billions of dollars in coming years.
Production will take three months and is slated to begin mid-October stated Yates.  And, all the actors will be back, including Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and Ashley Judd. The CEO said the movie will tell Winter's life story and include additional real-life elements not shown in the original movie; her work with kids and her struggles with a prosthetic tail.  It will also present a new story about Hope, the orphaned female baby bottlenose dolphin that, following her rescue two years earlier, was introduced late last year to Winter at the aquarium.  Along with a senior female, Panama, and a young male, Nicholas, the dolphins delight CMA visitors daily.
Clearwater Mayor, George Cretekos, added, “It's exciting.  More importantly, Winter's is a story that inspires people,” in a way that can't otherwise be told to a child, a veteran, or a person with disabilities.  The Governor agreed, saying, “It's a story of hope, a great story--but it also helps families,” when it brings jobs.  He acknowledged that he is looking forward to viewing the new film with his young grandchildren, and concluded, “There's a lot of hope in our state.” 
Indeed.  CMA officials are certainly pinning a lot of hope on the potential fallout from the publicity and interest and economic impact generated from production of the new movie in our town.  They know that voters will go to the polls this November to decide the fate of the CMA's proposal to lease the site of the current City Hall, as part of a new $160 million development plan for the aquarium in downtown Clearwater.  If the referendum passes, the CMA expansion is expected to attract well over two million visitors annually when it opens in 2017.  With two dolphin divas in residence, it could happen.
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