Anyone hoping to snag a ticket for a free tour of a U.S. Navy warship arriving this weekend are out of luck if they didn't get one during the first hour they were offered Thursday.
About 1,200 tickets that were set aside for the general public went within 52 minutes at the Mahaffey Theater. The remaining allotment went to such organizations as Boy Scout troops and ROTC groups for a total giveaway of 3,000 tickets.
Tickets were to have been on sale until 6 p.m. Thursday and from noon to 6 Friday. But a little before 1 p.m., someone in the box office announced that the tickets were gone. At the time, there were still a more than 100 people left in line, who after a while quietly dispersed.
The USS Independence will be at St. Petersburg's port for the Labor Day weekend. The 418-foot ship is a shallow drafting vessel designed to navigate close to shore. This design allows it to safely enter into Tampa Bay's shallow waters.
Only 150 people can be aboard the ship at any time, hence the ticketing system.
The Independence is scheduled to arrive in port Friday at 10 a.m. from Jacksonville, so those traveling over the Sunshine Skyway before then have the best chance of catching a glimpse before it docks. But as it arrives, you can also view it from these areas in St. Petersburg: Bay Vista Park, 7000 Fourth St. S.; from the top of the St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE; Lassing Park, 18th through 22nd avenues S.; Poynter Park, at 1000 Third St. S. via 11th Ave. S.; or the city's panoramic webcam (Camera 1) at www.stpete.org/webcam.