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Tie-ins to big game sprout from gulf to Carrollwood

From Bed Bowl to Super Paella, organizers have timed their events to siphon some Super Bowl glory.

By BABITA PERSAUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 10, 2001


TAMPA -- Who isn't planning an event for Super Bowl week?

There's SuperWalk, Super Pier Fest, and Arts on the Ball, where a trolley ticket called a "Field Pass" takes you to seven museums in St. Petersburg.

There's Touchdown at the Tradewinds, a sand sculpture event. And Supper Bowl, which will distribute food to the needy.

YMCA's Bed Bowl at Al Lopez Park will have teams pushing a racing bed over a short course. Super Weekend at Derby Lane greyhound racing track offers 50-cent hot dogs and a Radio Disney booth to attract the whole family.

Physicians will convene at the Florida Aquarium for lectures the day before Super Bowl Sunday as part of the Super Medical Conference.

It seems the publicity and buzz created by the Super Bowl can't be beat for local groups seeking some exposure as part of the big event.

A 30-second commercial during Super Bowl XXXV costs $2.5-million. Obviously, out of the question, said Wit Tuttell, publicity director with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The group brainstormed and came up with a novel way to get attention.

On Sand Key during Super Bowl week, a sand sculpture the size of a football field will be built with 8-foot-tall helmets of all NFL teams centered by 30-foot-high helmets of the two Super Bowl contestants. The Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to authenticate it as the world's tallest sand sculpture. A sunset laser show is scheduled each evening.

"If we get five seconds on CBS Sports, we'll be happy," Tuttell said.

At the Tampa Museum of Art, there is the Best Shots: Great Moments in NFL Photography exhibit.

Some organizers moved their events by weeks or even months to coincide with the Super Bowl. Super Paella (yellow rice and seafood cooked in a 10-foot pan) usually occurs in April in Ybor City. It's been moved to Monday, Jan. 22. Gasparilla, a February tradition, will occur the day before Super Bowl Sunday.

Old Hyde Park's live music festival, which usually occurs in the summer and fall, is making a special appearance on Wednesday, Jan. 24. It's new name: Super Live Music Series at Old Hyde Park Village.

Then there are the many neighborhood events.

The Indian Rocks Beach Tailgate Party is Jan. 27 at City Park behind Crabby Bill's. It's a fundraiser, like many Super Bowl events, for citywide beautification projects. There will toss games and a pottery wheel, all in spirit of throwing. One thousand people are expected.

The event started, like so many of the events on the Super Bowl task force list, with someone speaking up in a meeting.

"Hey guys, we have Super Bowl coming," Pat Muneio, of the Indian Rocks Beach government's promotion committee, said during a meeting back in August.

The Carrollwood Area Business Association also had a brainstorming session. "First, we thought, maybe we should do a luncheon, maybe we should do a breakfast," said Dawn Hudson, an administrator with the business networking group that usually meets every Wednesday.

The group decided on a neighborhood-wide, open-to-the-public block party. Super Celebration Carrollwood will have fireworks, local food vendors, high school football and cheerleaders revving up the crowd Wednesday evening at the Carrollwood soccer field.

Frank Miller of the Friendship Trail Bridge committee is organizing SuperWalk across the old Gandy Bridge, a fundraiser for the operational cost of the bridge on the Sunday before Super Bowl Sunday.

With all the events, there is bound to be some duplication. Independent of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater group that devised the sand sculpture on Sand Key, the Gulf Beaches of Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce came up with "Touchdown at the Tradewinds," another sand sculpting event.

"Ours is high-tech," said Debbie Stambaugh, executive director of the Gulf Beaches Chamber. From a WebCam, people who log onto http://www.floridabeachlive.com will be able to see the sculpture being built behind the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort.

"Ours has a bit of a twist to it," she said.

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