St. Petersburg, FL -- It was time for the Grand Old Party Sunday to have a party, as an estimated 15,000 delegates and journalists attended the Tampa Bay Host Committee's Welcome Event at Tropicana Field.
The nearly 5-hour event featured belly dancers, fireworks, a cirque performance, and a concert by county star Rodney Atkins.
Despite the potential of bad weather because of Isaac, organizers say they never seriously considered canceling the event. In fact, they seemed confident the party would be the first of many chances they'll get this week to make a positive impression on the 50,000-plus people coming to the area for the Republican National Convention.
"I think (the visitors) are going to say every aspect of Tampa Bay was clean, was hospitable, and you know what, in spite of a storm, they handled it better than anyone could," said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.
Ken Jones, the president and CEO of the Host Committee, also called it "crazy" to suggest that no future political conventions would come to Tampa Bay because of the possible threat of a hurricane.
"Florida will still have conventions. I mean, you have tornadoes in Kansas, earthquakes in California, earthquakes in DC. A hurricane hit New York a couple of years ago, so we're not worried about that at all. This event is going to make Tampa Bay look great," Jones said.
Saturday evening, convention organizers canceled the first day of the RNC citing safety concerns brought on by Isaac.