tampabay.com

Carnival is like a tour of islands

By MICHAEL KRUSE
Published June 4, 2007


Salsa, soca and steel drums, colors, crafts, spicy food and sweet, sometimes rummed-up, drinks.

Sound like fun?

The 15th annual Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival is set for Saturday and Sunday at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park and late Saturday night at the West Tampa Convention Center.

The man behind it all: George Carrington, 51, a jeweler who came from Trinidad to St. Petersburg 15 years ago and has been president of the carnival for the last five. He sat down with the Times recently to talk about the event.

How'd you end up in St. Pete?

The weather got me. Good weather ... lovely beaches. It's like home away from home. The other thing that got me was the cultural life here. I think it's gotten better. When I first got here, it was really quiet.

The Caribbean population is growing, right?

When I first got here, it was a small group, but now they're really coming in daily. It's getting better and better.

So. The carnival?

It's like a disease, the carnival - everyone's hit by it, the music, the steel drums, the food, the culture as a whole. You'll meet people from the different Caribbean islands. ... It's like you're getting a tour of the Caribbean right here without leaving Tampa Bay.

What about the music you have lined up?

Every year we try to step it up and take it to the next level. El Gran Combo (Saturday's headliner), they're like the Beatles of the Latin world.

IF YOU GO

Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival

When/where: Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday at West Tampa Convention Center, 3005 W. Columbus Drive., Tampa.

Cost: Tickets are $10 a day or $15 for a two-day pass. Kids under 12 free.

Information: (727) 327-1277 or TampaCarnival.com.