At a workshop at the Tampa City Council this morning, officials announced new measures to try to curb the excesses that occur annually at the Gasparilla Parade - excesses generally attributed to people getting inebriated throughout the course of that Saturday in February.
Assistant Chief of Police Marc Hamlin came before the Council to address what the TPD plans to do address the problems that have been a part of the bacchanal. That includes increasing the number of officers in the South Tampa/Hyde Park neighborhood that day, and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy towards underage drinking and public urination.
Hamlin said that usually 1400 officers work on Gasparilla day, but the TPD will coordinate with the State Attorney's office to get additional support from other law enforcement agencies.
And Hamlin said succinctly of some of the embarrassing behavior that's happened at what some consider an annual drunk-fest: "These things won't be tolerated anymore."
Some attribute the speed to which these changes were made due to videos that went up on YouTube in the immediate hours and days after this past year's event.
Event officials say they're going to double the number of portable toilets, from 800 to 1,600.
And they're going to change the route of the parade, so that it ends in front of Curtis Hixon Park downtown.
The moves come after members of the Bayshore/Hyde Park community got organized and held meetings with City and Gasparilla officials.
The City Council today approved drafting a letter to local stores in the area to voluntarily "curb" sales of alcohol during the event, from 10A.M. to 4P.M. However, without Council Chair Thomas Scott present, they opted to wait to send the letter until he returns next week.
In an interview after the workshop, Council member John Dingfelder said he will talk directly to the major grocers in the neighborhood (Publix and Sweetbay) and "see if they want to be good corporate citizens."
When asked if he thinks the power of videotape depicting public urination activities (or worse) was the catalyst in officials finally making serious changes, he said he thought it was more of a cyclical event.
"I think it has gotten worse over the past couple of years," he said.
Dingfelder also says he appreciates the fact that Tampa Police, as well as the portable toilets, will be present further up into the neighborhood and not just along the parade route.
But he emphasizes, "I love Gasparilla. It's a wonderful thing, but we just have to clamp down a little bit."
City Council Santiago Correda applauded all the players involved gave a Powerpoint presentation
Marc Hamlin 1400 officers for Gasparilla - bu theyre getting additional support coordinate with State Attorneys Office - going after more people who are drinking or urinating in public
These things wont be tolerated anymore
Darrell Stephany Event were going to add more port-o-lets
1600 port-ol-ets $76,000 more than 1600..more than double from last year..
Many of these will be inside the neighbohrood .
Parad setting between Howard and Rome has been re located to Bay to Bay and Howard .allows the wateride to be opened up
Correada: Part of the equation is port o lets being serviced. And businesses are being encouraged to provide restrooms..
Hamin It may take us awhile to change the culture
Irvin Lee Public Works highlight the proposed extention. 3 additional blocks of planned viewing area
Curb alchol sales