Tents provide prime parade view
The number of corporate sponsors' tents has risen by about 14 this year. The tents can hold from 60 to 1,200 people.
By SUE CARLTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001
TAMPA -- Along with all the super hype of a Gasparilla Pirate Fest held on Super Bowl weekend, spectators might notice more of those colorfully striped tents lining the parade route along Bayshore Boulevard.
The number of corporate sponsors' hospitality tents has grown from about 22 last year to about 36 this year, according to Darrell Stefany of EventMakers, which markets and manages the event.
|[Times photo: Fraser Hale]
David Habiaga of Southeastern Seating bolts down a bleacher Thursday in one of the corporate areas along Bayshore Boulevard.
In those tents, the businesses that are sponsors of the Gasparilla event can wine and dine guests and employees and treat them to a shady, prime view of the high-energy happenings Saturday afternoon.
The pirates invade at 1 p.m., and the parade along Bayshore begins at 1:45 p.m.
Though the specter of the Super Bowl was expected to mean more out-of-town sponsors this year, "the more local, in-town people have stepped up and become sponsors," Stefany said.
Returning sponsors include Southwest Airlines and Red Baron Pizza. Newcomers include the Bank of Tampa and the Thomas Financial Group, he said.
The tents are reserved and separated from the masses by low, white picket fences.
Those lucky enough to enjoy the event from the tables and chairs set up inside are served up catered menus that range from hot dogs to chicken and yellow rice.
Striped in yellow, green and blue and lining the parade route from Swann to Howard avenues, the hospitality tents come in different sizes and can hold between 60 and 1,200 people.
Stefany noted that although more tents might make less room for spectators in some spots, the parade route has been extended by a half-mile to accommodate everyone.
"Most of the parade route is certainly open to the public," he said.
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