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Monday, May 21, 2018
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‘Light up Channelside’ slips quietly into pre-summer

The Light Up Channelside Summer Fireworks Series was off to a slow start Saturday.

A handful of people showed up for the first of what will be a new, weekly event featuring live music, food trucks and fireworks on Saturday nights this summer.

The long-struggling Channelside Plaza mostly was empty just after 5 p.m., when the fireworks festival was scheduled to start. The band had not begun to play and the crowds the food truck owners were expecting after the Tampa Bay Storm game at the Forum hadn’t arrived.

Debbie Guy, who operates the Dochos sandwiches food truck, said she and her team were at the Channelside fireworks show on Memorial Day, and the crowds didn’t show up until closer to the show. She expected it to be a similar scenario this weekend.

Bob and Linda Huebert, who had read about the event in the newspaper and drove from Apollo Beach, were disappointed that there wasn’t a bigger crowd. They thought the event should have been advertised better.

“You want people to be down here,” Linda Huebert said.

John and Terry Greene, who came from Brandon, agreed. They used to come to Channelside frequently — back when it was busy and crowded many nights.

Terry Greene said she doesn’t understand why the plaza is struggling now. She wants the fireworks series to be more successful in coming weeks and bring in new clients for the restaurants and shops.

“I think the idea is good and the location is good,” she said. “I’m hopeful.”

The Light Up Channelside series kicks off this weekend, and will take place most Saturdays through Aug. 23. On Aug. 31, there will be a Labor Day fireworks show and lighted boat parade.

The event lasts from 5 to 11 p.m., with the fireworks starting at 9 p.m. Between six and eight food trucks will be at the plaza from 5 to 9 p.m. each night of the series.

To find out more about Light Up Channnelside, go to www.channelsidebayplaza.com.

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Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO

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