Next Monday, May 29, John F. Kennedy, the nation’s 35th President, would have turned 100 years old.
To commemorate that anniversary, the Tampa Theatre will screen Wednesday night (one night only), “JFK in Tampa,” Lynn Marvin Dingfelder‘s Emmy Award winning 2013 documentary on Kennedy’s visit to Tampa Nov. 18, 1963, four days before his assassination in Dallas.
Dingfelder obtained footage of Kennedy’s appearance in Tampa from a visit to the Kennedy Library in Boston. That footage (later transferred digitally) was something no one else in Tampa possessed (as she learned through former WTVT sports anchor Andy Hardy) because federal authorities seized the footage of Kennedy taken by Tampa’s local television affiliates in the immediate aftermath of what happened in Dallas days before.
Nearly 54 years since JFK’s death, Marvin Dingfelder said JFK’s message captured from speeches given in Tampa that day still hold up.
“He talked about Cuba. He talked about the importance of education. Of course, he talked about segregation,” she recounts. “He also spoke about space initiatives and moving forward and the challenges before us, and he said what will future generations think of us if we don’t take these steps today?”
On that day in 1963, as depicted in “JFK in Tampa,” Kennedy took an extraordinary long 28-mile motorcade through the city, with appearances at MacDill Air Force Base, Al Lopez Park, the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory (now the Jewish Community Center).
The president spoke before 4,500 guests at a Florida Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event, ending the day with a trip to the International Inn Hotel (now the Westshore Grand) before returning to MacDill.
Dingfelder captured numerous interviews for the film, including one with former Congressman Sam Gibbons, who was Kennedy’s Florida campaign chairman in 1960, just a few months before he died in the fall of 2012.
The only previous public screening of “JFK in Tampa” at the Tampa Theatre in 2013 drew a sold-out house. Since then, Dingfelder says she’s frequently heard from people who said they’ve never seen it.
As she realized that the former president’s 100th birthday was approaching, Dingfelder reached out to the management at the Tampa Theatre, who were pleased to be to show the film again this Wednesday night.
The film will screen Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Tampa Theatre’s website, or at the box office.