(WTSP) Tampa, Florida — TIA has a lot of great amenities — clean terminals, nice restrooms and local restaurants.
Now you can add one more things to that list — a very caring staff.
On Saturday, June 6, a mother called the airport frantically asking if they had seen a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. Her 6-year-old son Owen left him somewhere in the airport while they were waiting to catch a plane to Houston.
Various employees were dispatched to find Hobbes, who was found near the children’s play area at Airside C and rushed it back to the Airport Operations Center.
AOC Manager Tony D’Aiuto then decided to take Hobbes on a tour while he waited on Owen’s return. D’Auito, with the help of TPA police, airlines, operations staff, the USO and others all over the airport campus, photographed Hobbes on his great adventures: outside by the air traffic control tower, buying gelato, working out at the employee gym, playing Jenga in the USO, hanging out with the firefighters, napping in a hammock by the Marriott pool, riding a luggage cart.
“I pitched this idea a couple of months ago after I saw a similar idea where someone took a stuffed lion around a museum,” D’Auito said, who noted that all of the photos were taken during his lunch hour. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity.”D’Auito then used a coupon code he had to make a hardbound photo book at Walgreens, documenting the adventures Hobbes had. He left the book at Lost and Found along with Hobbes.
When Owen and his mother arrived late on June 11 the went straight to AOC to retrieve Hobbes, not knowing the tiger had a great vacation despite not making it to Houston.
His mother cried when they showed Owen the book.
“It was very, very sweet,” Lake said. “We already told him over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure so it was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”
(All attributed to Gannett Company and WTSP)