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Museum has gala opening tonight

St. Petersburg's Bayshore Drive will be used as a parking lot during the celebration.

By Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer
Published February 23, 2008


ST. PETERSBURG - There will be trumpeters, a red carpet, men in tuxedos, women in fancy dresses and, for all anyone can tell, a row of backed-up cars waiting in traffic across downtown.

More than 1,200 people are expected to attend a gala celebrating the grand opening of the Museum of Fine Arts' Hazel Hough Wing tonight.

The two-hour party will kick off at about 6 p.m., but to accommodate partygoers, half of Bayshore Drive will be closed and used as a temporary parking lot starting at 4 p.m.

"This gala premiere will be the single largest event that we have hosted in the history of the institution," said Roger Zeh, assistant director of the museum. "We are more than sold out."

The southbound lane of Bayshore will remain closed until 10 p.m. The northbound lane will be open to arriving guests. Partygoers also can enter through the museum's Beach Drive entrance.

To make matters worse, driving downtown today could be a headache even before the gala starts.

Part of Bayshore Drive and 2nd Avenue N will be closed from 8 to 9:30 a.m. during the Pediatric Services of Florida's Suncoast Classic.

Despite the flurry of activity, city officials say finding parking downtown shouldn't be too hard.

"We really don't think it is going to be a problem," said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman George Kajtsa.

Cristina Silva can be reached at csilva@sptimes.com or 727 893-8846.

[Last modified February 23, 2008, 00:09:16]

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