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21 July 2024
Hulk Hogan in a wrestling ring.

In the early nineteen nineties, I stayed at my home in Orlando and decided to go to Clearwater Beach for a weekend. I met Hulk Hogan in his bar there.

Hulk Hogan.

My trip was just for something to do and maybe a little fishing offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. I was in no hurry as I had no plans other than to check into a hotel on the beach and have a relaxing day.

As I got closer to Clearwater I couldn't help noticing how much traffic there was on the other side of the freeway and thought there must have been an accident somewhere causing a hold-up and all the extra traffic. I was glad there seemed to be no traffic going my way, as I hated getting stuck on the freeway for hours. As I went across one of the main causeways onto Clearwater, I noticed a Holiday Inn hotel right on the beach right in front of me. Thinking it would be ideal, I pulled into the car park, hoping the hotel would have some rooms. Luckily, the car park only had a few cars in it, and I could park right outside and walk straight into the hotel lobby and up to the registration desk.

As I walked up to the desk I noticed a couple of staff stood talking to a policeman at the desk. I asked one of the girls if I could book a room for a few nights. She looked at me and told me they were closed. The policeman turned to me and asked how I got there. This seemed like a dumb question, but I didn't want to upset the local police, so I just told him that I had driven down from Orlando on Interstate 4. He then asked me if I had seen any roadblocks, and I told him that I hadn't but thought there was an accident somewhere as all the traffic was going the other way. The girl behind the counter said, "Don't you know a massive hurricane is coming?" I replied that I didn't know as I hadn't watched television or hadn't had the car radio on.

The policeman and the girl talked briefly before the policeman told me that it would be too dangerous for me to leave now and that Clearwater Beach had been given a mandatory evacuation order. This was why all the traffic had been going the other way. He could only assume I had been the last car to come through before the roads were closed. Asking what I could do the woman behind the desk told me that the hotel was being used to house the residents that had to stay or couldn't leave for various reasons and that she could give me a room until it was safe to go. She then told me the hotel bar would be open for food and drinks as all other places would be shut. On top of this, I would not be charged for my room or anything in the bar while the evacuation order was in place.

I went to my room and switched on the TV to watch the news to discover that there was a large hurricane heading our way. I watched some TV and decided to walk to the bar to see if I could get something to eat. When I got to the bar, there was a buffet set up, and I had free food before getting a pint from the bar. I talked to the girl behind the bar, and we got on quite well. Later in the evening, she came up to me and asked if I wanted to go with her to a hurricane party that was going on in a local bar. I, of course, said yes, and we walked up the road to a bar on the beach, which she told me was owned by Hulk Hogan. When we arrived, the big man was there serving free beer to locals, who had to remain behind and wait out the storm. I was introduced to him, and he talked to me while pouring beer for people. I spent the rest of the night in his bar playing pool with him and the locals who hadn't left because of the Hurricane.

The following afternoon, the evacuation was lifted as the storm changed direction and moved back into the Gulf of Mexico. I didn't have to wrestle Hulk Hogan, but I met him in his bar at a Hurricane party. I had a complimentary stay in a hotel in Clearwater Beach. I had eaten, drank, and had a great time, and it didn't cost me a penny. Another great time that I will not forget.