YBOR CITY — Seventh Avenue was family-friendly Saturday afternoon, with the returning Fantasma Fest this year adding a bed race to its week-long celebration of Halloween.
It was is the second year for Fantasma, a partial replacement for Guavaween, which launched in 1985 as a free-spirited mix of political satire and Halloween silliness.
This year Guavaween consisted of a concert and costume contest in the Centro Ybor complex on Saturday night.
Earlier Saturday, the main street of Tampa’s popular entertainment district was problematic for some contestants in the Monster Bed Race, sidelining one of the nine teams and tripping up another. The main drag’s brick crosswalk at 16th Street mercilessly ripped the rear wheels from the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. entry in an early heat, dashing any hope of victory. And some members of the Acropolis Taverna team lost their footing in the same area, but recovered quickly and completed the race.
No matter, in the end, Coyote Ugly Saloon captured the trophy for the race on the two-block, primarily asphalt track.
“We knew we going to win,” said Heather Ham, general manager of the Ybor City bar whose employees built and raced the wining bed. She gave special credit to Will Howard, a bar back who perfected his welding skills building the bar’s four-wheeled bed.
Ham also cited the aesthetics of the prize-winning bed. “I think we’re the only one with an actual headboard and footboard,” she pointed out.
Saturday night activities included a beer and music festival and a Halloween ball, but daytime was marked by wholesome activities.
“My old man is crying” because the traditional Mama Guava Stumble Parade did not make a comeback, said Kimberly Wrobel of Seminole Heights. “He wanted the parade, but with the kids, I like the family-friendly stuff,” said Wrobel, accompanied by son Matthew, 10, and daughter Elizabeth, 7.
“I think it’s a well-rounded” festival, with events that kicked off Oct. 14, culminating Thursday with a Halloween ball.
“I love the fact they’ve got stuff for all ages; I think that’s important.” Earlier her children enjoyed the Kids Pumpkin Patch and Little Monsters Promenade, all free.
“I love the bed race,” Wrobel said, adding she hopes it returns next year. Organizers vowed it will.
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