ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — To get Opening Day started, the Tampa Bay Rays will host a drive-thru event.
Drive to Opening Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 27 in the Tropicana Field parking lots.
The event replaces the team’s annual Fan Fest.
To keep fans safe in the midst of COVID-19, the Rays transformed the preseason event into a drive-thru concept with giveaways, experiences and photo opportunities from fans’ cars.
Fan hosts, DJs and mascots Raymond and DJ Kitty will also be in attendance.
For safety and convenience, fans won’t have to leave their cars for any of the activities.
Face masks are required while car windows are down and any time outside a vehicle.
Claim your ticket
Fans interested in attending the Drive to Opening Day, will need to reserve a free ticket for a designated time slot on the team’s website.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 18, season members will have the opportunity to claim tickets before the general public.
Although tickets reserved in advance are free, fans who arrive on the day of the event without a reservation can enter by making a $10 donation to the Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund if space is still available.
“Fan Fest is a fan favorite at Tropicana Field,” said Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services Eric Weisberg.
“The event is evolving to make sure that fans can still celebrate the excitement of the upcoming season—and the success of 2020—in an engaging and safe way.”
Cereal for Summer
Fans will also have the opportunity to donate to 10 Tampa Bay and Feeding Tampa Bay’s Cereal for Summer Drive, which works to fight hunger during the summer school break and benefits families in the Tampa Bay community.
Suggested donations include cereal, breakfast bars, granola and oatmeal. Each household that donates will receive a surprise Rays promotional item.
Last year, COVID-19 forced Cereal for Summer to go virtual.
Despite having to shift the event online, the program brought in 667,000 meals. “It was by far, our largest year ever,” said Kelley Sims, chief development officer of Feeding Tampa Bay.
Throughout the United States, one in four families is on the verge of food insecurity, according to a 2020 report by Feeding America. Most children within this group rely on free breakfast and lunch from their schools as their primary meals during the school year.
When school is out for the summer, those same children are less likely to receive free meals.
During the pandemic, Sims said 68 percent of people who sought help from Feeding Tampa Bay’s pantries “never needed food relief in the past.”
“As people head back to work, we're finding those families are further behind than they've ever been,” Sims explained.
“Our COVID response is going to go on for a couple more years,” she said.
This year, Feeding Tampa Bay will continue to offer virtual options for the Cereal for Summer program. Sims said people will have the ability to donate money through its virtual booth drive.
“[With money] we can make it go much further than anyone's retail purchase in their own grocery. For instance, if someone wants to give five or $10 we can multiply that many times over,” Sims explained.
If you can’t make it to the Rays event, you can still help by donating online here.
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