Margarita festival brings beach to downtown
People may want to sink their toes in the sand downtown at the first Tampa Bay Margarita Festival planned for May 25, said Ferdian Jap of South Tampa. “Usually everyone goes to the beach or out of town for Memorial Day,” Jap said. “We want to encourage people to come downtown over Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully, it will become a tradition.” Jap said organizers are going to bring in 35 tons of sand to create a mini beach complete with volleyball court for the festivities at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa. The event, which includes a fireworks display, is from 2 to 10 p.m. Jap is working with business partner Monica Varner, of South Tampa, on the festival. As owners of Big City Events, they have coordinated events such as the Gasparilla Film Festival and Tampa Tee Off.They are promising an event filled with “margaritas, music, beach volleyball, fireworks and fun.” Jap said they plan to use fresh lime juice, tequila and agave nectar. Margarita mixes are banned. In fact, they are ordering 175 gallons of lime juice, 2,500 lime pieces, 100 gallons of agave, 20,000 ounces of tequila and 20,000 pounds of ice for the event. “One of the things that makes this difference is we aren't going to use any mixes and we will have 20 professional bartenders,” Jap said, adding they researched similar events across the country. Some of the complaints they heard was that attendees said the drinks were not well made because of volunteers who weren't trained. They will be using bartenders from Udream Events, a professional bartending company. “Margaritas are really popular,” Jap said. “They are refreshing. With the weather, it's hot out there. It's the drink of the summer.” Entertainment for the event includes four local bands who will perform everything from rock and reggae to country and contemporary music. A portion of proceeds benefits a University of South Florida nonprofit group, Students in Free Enterprise. The group focuses on career fairs, business projects and other ways to help USF students make the transition from college to career. Admission is $15. Margaritas range in price from $6 to $8. For more information, visit tampamargaritafest.com or bigeventstampa.com. Lcone@tampatrib.com (813) 731-2008
Hot Wheels: Kids are driving Pinellas County's car-theft epidemic. It's a dangerous, sometimes deadly, game.