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Jimmy Tours Florida Beach with Governor Crist

June 5th, 2010

On Saturday morning, Jimmy Buffett joined Florida Governor Charlie Crist in Pensacola to tour the beaches that are beginning to feel the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf.

He took a walk Saturday along the beach with Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist and noted that his favorite memories of the area are of sunsets in the fall.

He says he wants people in the area to know that he’s there for them. He says if he’s good for anything, it’s “helping people forget their troubles for a couple of hours.”

He says the people of the Florida Panhandle will get through the crisis together.

TampaBay.com also has an article on today’s visit that gives an opening date for the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola:

Appearing Saturday morning at Pensacola Beach with Buffett, Crist said keeping more oil off the shoreline is “the utopian objective.” He said he’ll continue to press for more oil-containment booms.

“We’re going to ask, and ask, and ask,” Crist said.

Buffett, whose Margaritaville hotel is due to open June 24 in Pensacola Beach, planned to accompany Crist on a helicopter flight over the beach to view the oil.

Buffett said he hoped people would still visit the beach. He suggested that visitors could “come down and help clean up the beach rather than just lie around and soak up the sun.”

(photo Paul Flemming)

UpdateTampa Bay Online has more:

“I thought I could lend a hand and tell people that the sky is not falling,” the singer-songwriter said this morning. “I’m always an optimist. Handle a crisis and go on.”

Buffett insisted that the uncertainty over how bad the Gulf of Mexico gusher will get in Florida won’t affect his first foray into the hotel business. His Margaritaville Beach Hotel is set to open July 1 on the site of a Holiday Inn wiped out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“We’re going to be open for business come hell or high water,” said Buffett, his words almost sounding like a song. “We go through hardships in life. People in the Panhandle are a tough people. We go clean it up and we get on with our lives.”

His appearance with the governor created quite the scene. People stopped him – Buffett, not Crist – for an autograph and to pose for pictures. Several thanked Buffett for what he’s doing on the Emerald Coast with his hotel.

“God bless him for being here,” Crist said.

Buffett said he planned to be in town for a job fair today at the hotel, where earlier 1,000 people showed up to apply for 40 positions. He joked about not knowing how many rooms the place has, saying he’s only been involved in the project for the past six weeks and hasn’t had time to count them all. He said he was trying to make sure the hotel had all the cool things, such as a Ping-Pong table.

“This was always my first Florida. Pensacola Beach is the first pretty water you see,” he said. “I thought we should have a place up here. It’s kind of my back yard.”

“This is an environmental disaster that nobody asked for,” Buffett said. “I’m not satisfied with the way that BP has handled anything. I am pissed off, but what are you going to do about it?”

More photos from today:

Chris Urso / Tampa Bay Online

George Skene / Orlando Sentinel

AP Photo / Michael Spooneybarger

AP Photo / Michael Spooneybarger

Brandon Kruse / The Palm Beach Post

Brandon Kruse / The Palm Beach Post

AP Photo / Michael Spooneybarger

Tagged in In The News, Margaritaville Hotel, Photos