Celebrate the Rays this afternoon
ST. PETERSBURG -- The city will get a chance to celebrate the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays one last time today at a Halloween party along the downtown waterfront.
The party starts at 4:30 p.m. at North Straub Park near the Renaissance Vinory Resort. Coach Joe Maddon and some Rays players, including James Shields, Grant Balfour and Fernando Perez are expected to attend. The Rays Street Team and mascot Raymond will also be there.
Mayors Rick Baker, Pam Iorio and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard will all be invited to address the team. And Maddon and the players are expected to talk as well.
"As far as they've come, absolutely we are going to be there for them,'' said St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Jamie Bennett.
The event had to be scheduled during prime time trick-or-treating largely because the Rays themselves are leaving town. Most of the team lives somewhere else and many of the players already departed for home on Thursday. Even manager Joe Maddon, who keeps a home in Tampa, is catching a Saturday flight to California where he's getting married next week.
The World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, meanwhile, are also planning a Halloween celebration today. More than 1-million people are expected to attend an afternoon parade down Broad Street and a rally to follow at both the city's football and baseball stadiums. Free tickets for the rallies were all gone within an hour of being made available, according to the Phillies.
The Rays' party will include food vendors, a live band and games for children. The speaking portion of the celebration is only supposed to last up to 45 minutes, meaning there still might be time for trick-or-treating.
Rays senior adviser Dick Crippen will emcee the event, which will also be televised live on Bright House Sports Network channel 47.
Cristina Silva and Aaron Sharockman, Times staff writers
Bob Carroll sets up the sound as the stage gets prepped for a rally to celebrate the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays at North Straub Park in St. Petersburg Friday. The celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. in front ot the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Coach Joe Maddon and some Rays players, including James Shields, Grant Balfour and Fernando Perez are expected to attend. [Lara Cerri, Times]