Huge crowd in Ybor waits for Obama tickets

"I want to make sure to personally thank him (Obama) on Friday," the mayor told CL while taking a break from shaking hands and posing for pictures with enthusiastic supporters. "And tell everybody in that audience what that investment in infrastructure does for cities, not just for me but for mayors all across the country."

Buckhorn calls the Kennedy segment "the last missing piece," which will connect Curtis Hixon Park south underneath the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge to the existing Riverwalk past the Sheraton Hotel. The mayor said construction could "conceivably" begin on the project by the end of this year, and will take about a year to complete.

Among those in the crowd psyched to see Obama this coming Friday were Tina Peggs and Diana Martelli from Tampa.

Peggs said she hoped that Mitt Romney wouldn't "buy the election. Because he's for the rich."

The two women also expressed concerns about the voting purge of non-citizens that has elicited yet another lawsuit.

"That's a big issue for us," said Martelli.

Both women said they would like to see the president improve the economy. Peggs worked at Tampa General for 17 years as a telecommunications operator but was laid off in 2009, and has been unemployed ever since.

Diana Martelli also worked at Tampa General Hospital and has been without a job for the last year. She said her main concern was a lack of health coverage.

The Ybor OFA office has been a hotbed of activity in recent days. On Sunday, actress Kerry Washington appeared there to pump up volunteers who were going out to register voters.

The idea that there's a lack of enthusiasm for Barack Obama among his liberal base?

Not the case in Ybor City.

Free passes for the president's scheduled appearance at Hillsborough Community College this Friday were distributed at four locations in Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg at 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. The line for tickets in Ybor stretched from the Obama For America offices at the corner of 6th Avenue and 14th Street all the way to 13th Street and 7th Avenue.

It was hard to say how many people were in line, but it looked to be roughly around 600-800 people, possibly more.

Making an appearance moments before the first tickets were distributed was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who was all smiles when talking about the president. And why not? Buckhorn found out earlier today that the city has won a $10.9 million TIGER grant to construct the Kennedy Boulevard Plaza segment of the Riverwalk. (He got the news via text from Senator Bill Nelson while attending a Port Authority meeting.)

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