For sports fans, or anyone with a deep love for their city, there arent many greater feelings than championships for local franchises. Tampeños who love Bucco Bruce now have two Super Bowl championships to be happy about, and the teams journey has undoubtedly been a bright spot during this nightmare year. On Wednesday, the City of Tampa decided to celebrate with a boat championship parade.
These photos snapped from the shore (Dave Decker) and the media boat (Nicole Abbett) capture the well-deserved joy of the players and staff as well as the excitement of fans standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the parade route which went down the Hillsborough River from Armature Works to Sparkman Wharf and the Port of Tampa.
The shots also arrive at a moment in time when healthcare workers and the community at large have spent the last 12 months caring for folks fighting coronavirus during this once-in-a-century pandemic (according to state data analyzed by the Tampa Bay Times, Hillsborough has 104,604 cases and 1,392 deaths; Pinellas has 62,132 cases and 1,370 deaths).
On top of this, as of last Friday, Florida reported 201 infections of the U.K variant, known as B.1.1.7, which is the most in the country by a long shot. In the Tampa Bay area, 20 cases were found in Hillsborough County, 19 in Pinellas, six in Pasco and one in Hernando.
So the photos are also deeply painful as they capture our neighbors openly flouting Tampa Mayor Jane Castors executive order saying face masks must be worn in the Entertainment Zones on the parade route (the city for its part openly said it was interested in encouragement over enforcement of any mask mandates, and on Monday told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay it issued zero individual citations for violations of the EO).
Even Hillsborough Countys Superintendent of Schools got in on the maskless revelry.
So, yeah, Ill be the first to admit that flipping through this treasure trove of photos made me laugh and smile (I used to love wearing my Mike Alstott jersey on the bus ride to school on postgame Mondays, win or lose), but more than anything, having to see this joy mixed in with a clear disregard for others completely breaks my heart.Ray Roa