* Let others hype and over- or under-analyze the economic impact of the NHL All-Star weekend, but this much was a certainty: Pairing it with Gasparilla was a marketing coup. It was more than downtown hotels at 90-plus percent occupancy. It was also NBC network coverage that included all those establishing shots of the bay, the palm trees, the skyline, Ybor City, murals, minarets and the Riverwalk, in addition to flotillas and a massive, colorful parade. Lots of aerial parade shots–but no network cameras in the alleys.
And nice job by NBC to join the spirit of Gasparilla with an extended spoof featuring studio analyst Jeremy Roenick and the Krewe of Gasparilla. It played well.
* Having the Stanley Cup come ashore via the Jose Gaspar was beyond cool.
* The new normal for security is as noticeable as prominent surveillance cameras, police in the alleys and strategically-parked, traffic-blocking cop cars on streets leading directly into Bayshore Boulevard. Two words: Boston Marathon. Two more words: weaponized vehicles.
* We all know the history of Gasparilla is not exactly steeped in diversity. Especially before the 1990s. Race and gender meant white guys. That’s been changing, of course, but not until last Saturday had there been a krewe with a float specifically built for the disabled. The newly-formed Krewe of Sir Francis Drake crafted its float, Treasure Chest, to accommodate those across a spectrum of disabilities. Inclusive, indeed.
* Still surprised that there are no entrepreneurs selling Gasparilla-themed catheters. It might even mitigate one familiar feature of the parade: those annual rites of pissage.
* The big raucous parade is a juxtaposed reminder that the previous week’s version, the Children’s Parade, is notably special. It’s really big, really festive and really fun. It’s literally a family-friendly parade for all the right reasons with everyone in attendance focused on, yes, the actual parade. And it looks like Tampa: Black, White and Hispanic.