The events surrounding this year’s Gasparilla festival were a huge success. The cool temperatures under bright blue skies made for a comfortable day for spectators and participants alike, even those pirates wearing leather from head to toe.
The police presence also made for a sense of security that paid off with few arrests, a tribute to excellent planning by all concerned.
In all, 1,200 law enforcement officers were on hand to keep an eye on the revelers and make sure nobody was hurt. With the Boston Marathon bombing fresh in the minds of law enforcement, extra precautions were taken. Cameras were mounted on poles, and bomb-sniffing dogs checked each float.
It might seem counterintuitive that more police could result in fewer arrests, but their presence obviously curtailed misconduct. There were just 42 arrests, only three of them felonies. Compare that with three years ago, when nearly 350 people were arrested.
The tens of thousands of revelers who descended on Bayshore Boulevard found plenty of portable bathrooms along the parade route and up the side streets feeding into Bayshore. It was a welcome sight to the homeowners who in past years have contended with drunken revelers relieving themselves on their property.
Tampa is gaining a national reputation for how well it manages large public events, and law enforcement officers from around the country were on hand Saturday to observe the festivities. They witnessed Tampa at its best.