THE THOM STORK LEGACY FUND
Endowment gifts to the Thom Stork Legacy Fund will ensure that the outdoor plaza experience at The Florida Aquarium stays fresh, up-to-date and engaging for children and families to enjoy for years to come.
An endowment is a fund that holds its principal in perpetuity and only pays out the interest annually. Endowment investments have dual goals: to grow the principal and to generate income.
The Fund has been established thanks to a $50,000 gift from the Echevarria Family Foundation.
Thom Stork was all about family; adored his beautiful grandchildren and saw our Aquarium through their eyes. He once said, “Educating and entertaining our guests is not mutually exclusive: we can open the minds of children and adults amidst laughter, getting wet and joyful togetherness in a place that is safe, magical and surprising.”
Nearly a decade ago, a new day dawned for The Florida Aquarium with the opening of Explore A Shore, a play area for families envisioned by Thom Stork. He realized the importance of combining fun and learning activities to encourage more families to visit the Aquarium and for a longer period of time. Many fondly remember the thatched restaurant bar, pirate ship and play area that encouraged mothers to commune while their kids got drenched cavorting among the water features. However, with the passage of time, rain, sun and general wear and tear signaled it was time for an update.
Today, a new Florida Aquarium Plaza is under construction and promises to stay true to Thom’s goal: to give families time to let kids be kids and to let adults be kids or adults! The Splash Pad – an adorable rainforest-themed water play park – will offer showers, buckets, climbing, and more. Recently, we previewed some of these elements for a limited time, and kids loved them. Parents will be able to relax under cover on our overlook deck while enjoying a bird’s eye view of the Channelside waterway. A nearby cantina will offer tasty food, and adult beverages will flow. Coming this spring, a new 4-D Theater will be added to the plaza providing a 50-seat private viewing area for thrilling, humorous and fascinating 12-minute films featuring documentaries and fun animations. 3-D affects, seen with glasses, and surprise 4-D elements that bring touch and smell into these already fun-filled productions, will delight the entire family.
Above the plaza will rise the Mosaic Center, a premier event facility for the Tampa Bay area. On the plaza level, departure gates for our popular dolphin tours will be surrounded by lush landscaping, comfortable seating and inviting signage.
With a target opening of summer 2017, this area will continue to be transformed with additional elements as budgets allow. That’s why we’ve created the Thom Stork Legacy Fund — whereby the monies collected in his name will make this plaza a must-see, must-do experience for our Channelside neighbors as well as our guests from throughout the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
A dedication monument will be installed in the near future, but the quest to bring this plaza to its full potential is only just beginning, and Thom will forever be a part of its future.