Check out our Gasparilla pictures:
-- Photo Gallery: Gasparilla Parade pictures 2010
-- Photo Gallery: Gasparilla 2010 Children's Parade pictures
Tampa, Florida -- Arrrrrrrrrrr! The invasion of Tampa Bay is coming! The Gasparilla Pirate Fest is here.
The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship will invade Hillsborough Bay on Saturday, January 28th, but do you know how to stay out of trouble?
Maybe you among those confused about where the wet zones were for last year's Gasparilla Pirate Fest? And, we're not talking about weather... because the rain was everywhere. We're talking about where alcohol was permitted.
If you were confused, you weren't alone. Police arrested or gave citations to more than 400 people last year, mostly for open containers. Another 349 saw citations in 2011.
"Most people didn't know, especially those people from out of town," said attorney, Leslie Sammis, with the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa.
She represented several of those people who found their SOLO cup of beer replaced with an open container citation from Tampa Police.
"You have a lot of people who have never been arrested before, never been in trouble before and are at a house party and they are walking a block and a half to the parade route and suddenly they're going to recieve a citation," she explained last year.
This year, the rules are a bit different...for police. You still can't have an open container in the dry areas outside of the parade route. If you get caught this year, a new city ordinance allows police to write a citation for an open container violation that will cost you $75 for your first offense, $150 for your second offense, $300 for your third offense and $450 for the fourth offense.
The new ordinance allows the written citations, rather than taking you to jail.
So, don't' forget...there's a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY.
Despite a massive campaign launched by Tampa Police in the months and weeks leading up to the 2010 Gasparilla Pirate Fest about the crackdown on illegal drinking, many people didn't get the message.
"For so many years, we turned the other cheek with Gasparilla and the neighborhoods spoke up and said, 'No, we don't want it anymore,'" said Tampa Police spokeswoman, Laura McElroy.
While signs were posted to warn people about the areas where it was permitted to drink alcohol for those 21 and over on the day of the parade, Sammis says her clients didn't see them.
"I think that most people that went to the parade never saw the signs," said Sammis.
If you went to the parade, you may remember the rain... which might explain what happened to some of those signs.
"A lot of our signs were paper, so they were destroyed. This year, we're going to have signs that will stand up, no matter what the weather is," said McElroy.
This year, McElroy says they'll launch another campaign to educate the public about the do's and don'ts of Gasparilla and you might notice the areas you'll be allowed to drink... downsizing by a bit.
"We listened to the public, they said, 'we were confused'. Okay, we're simplifying it," she said.
'Now, the only wet zone is on the parade route. It's very simple, if you're on the parade route, you can have an open container. If you're in the neighborhood, you can't," said McElroy.
The best rule of thumb, if it's on the parade route, "If you're on the sidewalk to the bay, you're okay."
McElroy says most of the more than 400 people who received the citations were given community services hours and probation.
Sammis says the cases were dismissed against a majority of her clients.
While she says police could have done a better job with showing people where they could and couldn't drink, she applauded their efforts to crackdown on other illegal behaviors like underage drinking.
Police held seminars in six schools, MacDill Air Force Base and the University of Tampa to educate people about the changes.
This year, the education campaign will expand.
"This year, we're videotaping the presentation. It'll go to all of the middle schools, all the high schools. It'll go to USF, HCC. We're going to put it out everywhere, on Facebook, on YouTube, our city website," said McElroy.
She says they are also looking into mobile apps to educate people.
"We want them to have a good time and we want their neighbors to have a good time, so that means coming out, being responsible and enjoying the day," said Darrell Stefany, with EventFest which is organizing the Gasparilla events.
More Info: Gasparilla Pirate Fest
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He says the parade will follow the same extended route as it did last year, ending at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.
"It really brings in the cultural arts of downtown," he said.
He says they'll also increase signage so people are more aware of what they can and can't do.
"We're gonna have some signage that basically reminds people that respect is key and respect Tampa's treasure," he said.
Gasparilla wet zone maps : (PDF)
The Gasparilla Zero Tolerance Policy includes:
- Open containers permitted only along the parade route-in designated areas
- Must be 21 or older to consume alcohol
- Alcohol may not be consumed from kegs or large vessels
- No glass permitted
- Use port-o-lets or other restroom facilities
- No fighting
- No trespassing on private property- The homes along Bayshore and the surrounding neighborhoods are hosting this event, please be respectful
- No flashing or nudity
Here's a list of prohibited items within the event site:
- No styrofoam cups or containers
- Advertising of any product or service
- Glass containers of any sort (City ordinance)
- Coolers-Note: Small soft-sided cooler and lunch bags are permitted for child care needs and medical needs only.
- Contests or lotteries of any kind
- Tents of any sort
- Fence, stakes or rope (used by spectators to reserve space for parade viewing)
- Sampling or give-away of any product or service
- Selling any product or service
- Solicitation or database development of any kind
- Vehicles of any sort
- Weapons of any sort
- Illegal drugs of any sort
Laura Kadechka, 10 News