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    Costumes with axes won't win any prizes

    The Tampa police say no weapons, real or fake, will be tolerated at the Latin-style Guavaween celebration this year.

    By GRAHAM BRINK, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 26, 2002


    TAMPA -- Those in charge of security for the Guavaween celebration today have some advice for anyone going to Ybor City: Leave anything that looks like a weapon, real or not, at home.

    Also, you might want to avoid dressing up as Osama bin Laden.

    "Coming as a terrorist probably wouldn't be smart," Tampa police Maj. K.C. Newcomb said. "Most of it is just common sense stuff."

    Guavaween, a Latin-style Halloween festival, was founded 19 years ago as a fundraiser for Ybor City.

    Law enforcement officers and additional security measures are paid from ticket sales. Security at the celebration this year will look a lot like last year's.

    The fence that has encircled the event for nine years will be there, and police officers will be at each entrance. All bottles, cans, large packages and anything that looks like a weapon will be confiscated at the gates. About 300 officers from several local departments will patrol the event.

    Newcomb said securing Guavaween is similar to securing a Bucs game or any large gathering. Guavaween, however, poses at least one major difference: Many participants come in full costume, which makes identification difficult.

    It is impractical to frisk everyone, he said.

    "If someone is determined to pull off some sort of attack in a group of this size, there is only so much that can be done to prevent it," he said.

    John Santoro, owner of Club Hedo and Amphitheater, said he thought communication about the event between police officers and Ybor business owners has improved in the past year. Guavaween is normally one of the top five moneymaking nights of the year, Santoro said.

    Teri Cox Hickey, president of event promoter CC Event Productions, predicted that about 120,000 people will attend, including about 25,000 during the day.

    Last year, attendance dropped about 9 percent. Hickey attributed the decrease more to the cold weather that night than the proximity to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    Hickey said the road into the event site will be closed at 9 a.m. Officers will check parade floats before they enter the fenced area.

    The new trolley system will not be stopping in Ybor after 4 p.m. Shuttles will run between the event site and the University of South Florida, Raymond James Stadium, the Florida State Fairgrounds and the Port of Tampa until 4 a.m. The cost is $7 round trip, or $15 for both the shuttle and admission.

    -- Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brink@sptimes.com .

    If you go

    Guavaween Family Fun Fest, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Ybor City. Admission: $3, free for kids in costume. Shuttle bus from Florida State Fairgrounds and Tampa Port Authority: $5, free for kids.

    Guavaween Street Party and Parade, 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Ybor City. Mama Guava Stumble parade, 6:30 p.m.; costume contest, 9 p.m. Admission: $10. Shuttle bus from fairgrounds, port authority, Raymond James Stadium and USF Sun Dome: $7 or $15, including Guavaween admission. (813) 242-4828.

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