Let's get this party started: A photo review of Tampa

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Wow, there's even an official welcoming committee.

Welcomed to Tampa!This sign on I-275 by Armenia Ave. reminds me of the old bumper sticker, "Thanks for coming, leave your money and go home."

The food is hot

The Bungalow Restaurant is ready for the RNCIf there's a windfall from this citywide prom, it is going to be primarily for the service industry. The Bungalow Restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard is attempting to get its fair share.

The king's palace is lit

Tampa City Hall 08-17-2012City Hall looks beautiful at night with its new lights, paint job and renovated clock.
There's even a head cheerleader

The Head CheerleaderMayor Bob Buckhorn keeps referring to his party dress and ruby red slippers. He's ready for the prom as well. Every party needs a little tokenism and he is it. I wonder what it feels like to be one of the only invited Democrats in a room of 50,000 Republicans?

The party decorations are hung with care.

Party decorationsThis art display at Tampa International Airport was exhibited specifically for the Republican National Convention.

What kind of party would it be with no propaganda?

The propaganda is reaching critical mass This sign was seen on Kennedy Boulevard.

And even the alleged party crashers (depending on who you ask) are getting thier act together.

Even some of the alleged party crashers are readyRomneyville, which has been around for several weeks housing those who would protest, is getting bigger by the day. A spokesman there said they expect the population to double every day before the convention.

The chaperones are at their stations

Cliff Falkenhayn assists at the airportCliff Falkenhayn is one of the many volunteers at the airport. He believes he's a natural for the job of welcoming people to Tampa because he used to work at jewelry stores in Chicago and believes he is a good schmoozer.

Now… All there is left to do is to lock out the riffraff and… Hey wait a minute?

Curtis Hixon Lock OutHere's what Curtis Hixon Park looks like today. If you're not somebody, you're not going in. Welcome!

click to enlarge The party house is ready. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
The party house is ready.

After years in the planning, months of preparation and attention to detail in the final days (along with the tens of millions of dollars that have been spent), Tampa is looking pretty sweet. Here are some pictures of the preparations for Tampa's big prom.

The Dance hall is ready.

The House Is ReadyThe party hall is set to go. The Tampa Bay Times forum has been through a huge transformation — including a name change.

The invitations have been sent and the guests are arriving.

Guests Arrive at the Tampa International AirportThis weekend thousands of guests are expected to arrive at Tampa international Airport, which underwent several million dollars worth of recent renovations.

Buses, cars and crowds arrive at Marriott Waterside right next to the Tampa Bay Time ForumBuses, cars and crowds arrive at the Marriott Waterside in downtown Tampa, ground zero for the big event.

See more pictures after the break …

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