TAMPA — A small crowd of people were disappointed on a stormy Saturday night when the city shut down an outdoor watch party for the International Indian Film Academy Awards, which were recorded in Tampa in April.
The city and the Downtown Tampa Partnership planned the viewing party, which was held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park downtown, and canceled it due rain and lightning. But much to the dismay of the about 20 people who came out to watch the show, word of the cancellation didn’t come until after the IIFA show had started at 7:30 p.m.
The movie screen switched off during an opening musical number and the truck that was carrying it drove away, leaving the group unsure whether it had been canceled.
Kazi Hussain, who came to all the IIFA events in April and attended the live awards show, braved the evening’s stormy weather and drove from Orlando for the party.
He wanted to see the condensed version of the show, which was about five hours long live. The Bollywood Stomp kickoff party for the week of events in April also was at Curtis Hixon Park, and it was very pleasant, he said.
He tried to call someone at the city and the Downtown Tampa Partnership to ask if it still was going to happen despite the bad weather, but couldn’t reach anyone, he said. Hussain drove to Tampa anyway, hoping the skies would clear up.
“Downtown Tampa and the city should have an event line where they should say if it’s canceled, not canceled or something like that,” he said.
After the movie truck drove away, the group who came to watch the show huddled beneath an awning at the nearby Glazer Children’s Museum, wondering what was happening.
Someone checked Twitter on their mobile phone; then they knew for sure it was canceled. At 7:48 p.m., the city posted that “heavy rain and lightning” meant the IIFA show was off.
“Parks staff informed everyone in the park that it was lightning and to take shelter,” city public affairs director Ali Glisson wrote in an email to The Tampa Tribune. “After conversations with the Tampa Downtown Partnership, it was decided to cancel for everyone’s safety and best interest.”
Kiran Thatipally was disappointed that the group wasn’t informed sooner that the party was canceled, or even that it was the reason the truck drove away.
“You should always have a plan B,” he said.