Thursday’s meeting of the St. Petersburg City Council included a brief ceremony in which writer, actor, director and arts activist Bob Devin Jones was awarded the Key to the City by Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“I can’t think of a person more deserving to have the key to the city,” council member Gina Driscoll said to Jones during the in-chamber presentation, “because you have been the key to making St. Petersburg a city of the arts.”
Kriseman said that Jones, who arrived in the city from his native Los Angeles in the mid 1990s, “helped transform St. Petersburg into a creative center where creativity and artistic expression are encouraged and enjoyed by the residents of, and the visitors to, St. Petersburg.”
As the co-founder and artistic director of thestudio@620, Jones has helped mentor and shape the careers and success stories of actors, dancers, musicians and artists. “And,” Kriseman said, “he has served on a great number of boards and committees, always giving of his time and talent to help creative causes.”
Kriseman noted the presence of dozens of Jones’ friends and admirers gathered on the steps of City Hall, in support of the council’s newest honoree.
“St. Petersburg is a better place because of Bob,” the mayor said, noting that the strength and vision of the individual people are what make a city great. “He is the person that we want St. Pete to be known for. And known as. He represents everything that’s good about St. Pete.”
An emotional Jones accepted his key with a brief speech. “I came to St. Pete, saw nothing but opportunity, and acceptance, and joy, and challenge, and somehow – in my now 66 years on the planet – I rose to that challenge,” he said. “And I’m deeply, deeply grateful for this.”