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Boyd Hill’s Tomalin Campground dedicated

Bill DeYoung

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At the podium: Dr. Kanika Tomalin, daughter Nia and son Kai. Seated, from left, are Brian O'Neill of Boy Scout Troop 219, City councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Mike Jefferis, Director of Leisure Services. Photos by Bill DeYoung.

The rain, everyone agreed, would not have stopped Terry Tomalin.

At the start of Saturday morning’s dedication of the city’s new urban campground, named for the late journalist and outdoorsman, a stubborn downpour forced guest speakers, visitors, members of the media and Parks and Recreation Department staff to abandon the great outdoors – behind Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s Hammock Hall – and move the ceremony inside.

Tomalin, who died in 2016 at age 55, frequented the area with the Boy Scout Troop he directed. And rain, he always stressed, was just another part of the “church of the great outdoors” experience.

“Rain or shine, that’s much the way that Terry lived,” said Tomalin’s widow, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. “He was a rain or shine kind of guy.”

Mayor Rick Kriseman and Leisure Services Director Mike Jefferies were among those remembering Tomalin, and his desire to see the northern sector of Boyd Hill transformed into a campground (with primitive sites and cabins) for the general public.

RELATED STORY: Boyd Hill’s Terry Tomalin Campground to debut July 3

City councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Tomalin’s fellow scoutleader Brian O’Neill and longtime friend and co-adventurer George Stovall also spoke during the hour-long ceremony.

Kai Tomalin, 20, delivered a moving, off-the-cuff speech about his late father.

Terry Tomalin “had no boundaries,” the Deputy Mayor  said. “There was not a place he wouldn’t go, or a thing he wouldn’t do, or a feat he wouldn’t try. And he believed that everybody belonged in every place.”

Learn more about Hammock Hall and the other improvements to Boyd Hill in a story from Catalyst writer Amanda Hagood, here.

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