The Tampa Bay area is known for many things. The sunshine, beaches, sports teams, Busch Gardens, Ybor city and of course Gasparilla!

I have covered this event from the anchor desk for 15 years. This year, was the first I took part in the festivities.

It was a touching moment for me to stand next to Dick Greco, the mayor when I first moved to town. Then later, next to Bob Buckhorn, the current mayor. I have interviewed both men and both have always been forthright on issues covering the city.

I began the day at the Tampa Yacht Club. A long standing tradition for many. It’s where the pirates get ready for the big invasion! A thank you to Dr. Randy Feldman who walked viewers through in a Facebook live, you can now view the interview by clicking this link:

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Dr. Randy Feldman, orthodontist and philanthropist

Afterwards, what a remarkable few hours. I walked nearly the entire route. It was chilly, but it did not stop people coming out in droves.

It is the third largest parade in the United States with anywhere from 300,000-500,000 people decending downtown and taking over Bayshore boulevard.

I so enjoyed seeing everyone’s smiling faces and another personal thank you to the group that did give me a ride on their golf cart, so I could take a quick break at home.

It was great to see all the vendors out as well, the tents full of spectators and the bustling restaurants.

This event is a huge boost to the economy! Somewhere in the 22 million dollar range.

It is also another reason that makes Tampa Bay so special. And, I for one, am so proud to be a part of this community!

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