Bananas arrive in Port Tampa Bay after decades-long hiatus

- In the 1920s, bananas were unloaded by hand. By the '40s, they got from boat to truck on conveyors. 

Charlie Miranda remembers Channelside in the 1950s.

"It looked dirty. It looked dingy. It looked unacceptable," the councilman said.

Back then, Miranda was just a kid looking for a bite amid the chaos of the loading dock.

"I would take the banana, to be honest with you," he said. "We would ride bicycles all the way through here to Ballast Point to go fishing."

After decades of being shipped elsewhere, bananas are being unloaded in Tampa once again -- now at Port Tampa Bay's new refrigerated warehouse on Hookers Point.

"We feel very honored that we have bananas as our first shipment," said Raul Alfonso of Port Tampa Bay. "They are Chiquita bananas."

The port says this shipment of 3,900 pallets of bananas into Tampa is a test run. It's the first shipment since Del Monte pulled out in 1989.

But there's hope fruit can expand the port's offerings as demand grows for fresh goods along Interstate 4.

"We want not only the shippers and distributors, but the retailers, the ones that receive the product, to say, 'Hey, this is a great opportunity,'" said Alfonso. "By becoming a gateway, the community is also going to be able to enjoy fresher products at a better cost."

The port is hoping to take in more fruit shipments soon, with shipments of pineapples possibly on the horizon.

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