By Fred Garth
It was billed as the perfect Guy Harvey storm. Dr. Harvey and his entourage landed in Pensacola, Florida for a weekend of non-stop media interviews, art shows, lionfish eating and even a baseball game with the home team wearing specially designed, super dope Guy Harvey jerseys.
The whirlwind tour began with a swanky reception at the Pensacola Museum of Art, where they kicked off a stunning exhibit of Guy’s marine art. A standing-room-only crowd absorbed a presentation by the artist, who showcased some of his most recent marine science research and then suggested everyone disperse to the bar. The man knows how to please a crowd.
Coincidently, sort of, the art opening was slated on the same weekend as the 1st Annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day festival (LRAD). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had picked Pensacola as the epicenter for a statewide event day because, well, there are tons of the invasive fish along the northern Gulf Coast. Thankfully, now there are less. Some 2,300 of them were caught, cleaned, cooked and consumed. In Pensacola alone 877 lionfish were slayed in just two days by three teams in the tournament.
At the picturesque, Plaza de Luna in Pensacola, eight celebrity chefs prepared the tasty fish in more ways than that famous scene in Forrest Gump. There was fried lionfish, grilled lionfish, lionfish tacos, lionfish ceviche, blackened lionfish, lionfish sushi…you get the idea. More than 3,000 people came, ate and learned about the real and present danger lionfish have created in our waterways.
When he wasn’t at the art museum, Guy hung out at the festival, signed autographs and even practiced throwing a baseball with ex-professional player and current marine science teacher, Pete Della Ratta. Guy was on tap to throw out the first-pitch at the Pensacola Blue Wahoo AA baseball game that night. In case you’re wondering he threw heat right down the middle of the strike zone and then, as any blue-blooded Jamaican should, he “bowled” a baseball to the catcher, cricket style.
The LRAD event wrapped up on Sunday, the art exhibit continued to draw large crowds and Guy’s team flew away in the metal tube to spread more fishing cheer to the masses. Guy’s next adventure was a meeting with Sir Richard Branson on the billionaire’s private island in the British Virgin Islands to discuss conservation initiatives in the Caribbean. Yes, it’s good to be Guy. The news is not yet in whether or not Guy and Branson speared and ate some BVI lionfish.