TAMPA, FL - As the Gasparilla pirates plan their invasion by sea and by land, law enforcement agencies across Tampa Bay are also preparing with widespread security efforts.
Each year, they use lessons learned from past events to improve safety.
Friday morning, The Tampa Police Marine Unit along with other agencies like Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office and the U.S. Coast Guard, to name a few, were cruising the invasion route.
These agencies spend all year preparing for Gasparilla, especially with water rescues.
Officer Randy Lopez showed rookies like Ray Cotis, one last time, what to look out for during Saturday’s festivities.
“Every year we have new officers, and you want to get them up to speed on where the security zones are and where the choke points are,” says Lopez.
With nearly 1000 boats on the water, Officer Lopez wants boaters to be mindful of the "no wake zones"
That’s when boaters need to travel at a slow speed, that created no appreciable wake.
These zones start around Davis Island and end near the convention center.
Authorities also want to make sure the entrance to Tampa General is open, in case of an emergency.
“The biggest worry is someone falling overboard. Propellers, other boats not seeing them, people not being able to swim and not wearing PFD's. That is our number one worry,” says Lopez.
On land, more than 300,000 people will fill the streets to watch the Gasparilla parade.
These Tampa security cameras are set up all along Bayshore Boulevard, streaming video back to TPD headquarters so officers can keep tabs on unusual behavior.
As for the floats, K-9 officers will be up bright and early sweeping each one, before these pirates get on board.
If you're not a seasoned Gasparilla goer, you may have some questions about what you can and can't do on Saturday. We've got information from the official Gasparilla Pirate Fest website to help you.
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