Apollo Beach again lives up to its name

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This is the first Thanksgiving for the new beach at the Hillsborough County Nature Preserve in Apollo Beach.  It supplies the answer for an often asked question in Apollo Beach: Where's the beach?

"Especially in the restaurant," laughed business owner Logan Sultenfuss. "They're in Apollo Beach. They were expecting Clearwater Beach."

Sultenfuss's family owns Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness Club, where old photos hang on the wall recalling Apollo Beach in the 1950's and 60's. 

They show people arriving in cars and planes to buy waterfront lots here priced as low as $10,000. If you find that unbelievable, there are also pictures of a beach.

Years of erosion, storms, and housing developments robbed Apollo Beach of its beach, but earlier this month they dedicated the new beach on Surfside Boulevard at the nature preserve. It's a place where families can enjoy the sand and sun, free of charge.

The $1.5-million project was paid for by Hillsborough County and a citizens organization called Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group.

The sand was dredged from the main channels, so it improves boating.  And improving Tampa Bay water quality is now nearly as good as it was in the 1950's, so it's a fitting time for the lost beach to make a comeback.

"The fishing is awesome," smiled Tyler Sultenfuss. "I don't know whether I'm supposed to advertise that a lot."

Too late, the secret is out that there's a beach in Apollo Beach.