Saturday, January 20, 2018
Features and More

During Gasparilla, his place is your place — thanks to Facebook

When Jerry Trotter says "the more, the merrier'' at his Gasparilla party, he really means it.

He posted his event on Facebook for anyone — and everyone — to see.

Trotter could have extended an invite to just his friends, but he didn't want to exclude friends of friends who might want to join the fun.

"That's what it's all about,'' he said. "You meet new people.''

He's hardly alone. Search Facebook for "Gasparilla" and you get a bunch of house parties, many of them accessible as public events.

Trotter lives at 1720 W Hills Ave., in the heart of the chaos. He has prime viewing of the masses trudging to Bayshore Boulevard for the parade. People invariably ask to use his bathroom. (He usually says okay.)

The 27-year-old substance abuse control officer for the U.S. Marine Corps used to go to pre-parade parties at the four-plex long before he moved in about a year and a half ago. He was happy to continue the tradition.

Trotter doesn't worry about party crashers because most of the action happens outdoors. If last year was any indication, most of the strangers will come with people he knows. By the end of the day, he'll count everyone as a friend.

He has discovered that people don't troll for public events on Facebook as one might expect. Even his friends don't check the invite. To get a true count, he has to call them or send an email.

Trotter expects about 50 people to come and go before the parade starts at 2 p.m. Saturday. He'll have an ice luge for rum shots and multiple grills for the cookout. He'll dig up his favorite beads.

Next to Christmas and Thanksgiving with his family, it's his favorite day of the year — a "Tampa Bay holiday,'' as he calls it. And everyone is invited.

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