Professional wrestler and Tampa Bay resident John Cena walks down a street, speaking about patriotism -- that love of country means loving our neighbors who make up that country, no matter who they are or how they look. It's a July 4th public service announcement -- #WeAreAmerica -- for the Ad Council, filmed in Tampa Bay in late June.
As Cena walks and talks, the street unwinding behind him begins to look familiar -- it's Tampa Bay's iconic Seventh Avenue (La Septima to those in the know), the heart of historic Ybor City.
As Cena walks, the people on the street make perfectly timed appears cued by his statements about the number of Black, Hispanic, Muslim, LGBT or senior Americans in the U.S. Those people are probably actors, but the street -- La Septima -- is the real deal. Those flags flying from the buildings -- the U.S. flags, Gay Pride rainbow flags, the blue-and-yellow Equality Flag of the Human Rights Coalition -- they fly there all the time over the shops that line the street.
The PSA producers picked the perfect place to talk about America's vast diversity. Ybor City began as an immigrant neighborhood in the 1880s, settled by a steady stream of Cuban, Spanish, Sicilian, German, Black, Jewish and other residents. Many of those settlers' descendants still call Tampa Bay home -- that includes their former backyard chickens, whose descendants roam the neighborhood freely. Today, Ybor City has added a layer of LGBT businesses to the mix, making the 24 blocks east of downtown a microcosm of the city and the country as a whole.
If you want to experience a real piece of Tampa Bay's cultural and history, follow in John Cena's footsteps with a stroll down La Septima.