ST. PETE BEACH
Fears that a float party organized by a local rapper would bring chaos to the city's beaches on Sunday turned out to be overblown.
Several hundred Blue Wave rapper fans crowded the beaches, but their numbers fell far short of the tens of thousands that city officials and law enforcement had anticipated.
Beachgoers were well behaved and seemed to enjoy themselves, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who assigned more than 50 deputies, a helicopter, marine patrol and ATVs to protect the city's beaches from the Blue Wave Float Party.
There were no arrests at the event, which was organized by blue-haired Forgiato Blow, a self-described "national recording artist" whose real name is Kurt Jantz. No trash was left behind. No landmarks or resorts were vandalized.
Yet, as far as living up to weeks of social media hype or coming close to matching the crowd of 100,000 that trashed Miami Beach at last month's "Floatopia," Blue Wave didn't come close.
"Float flop," is what an irked Maria Lowe, mayor of St. Pete Beach, dubbed the affair. She wanted Blow, a St. Pete Beach resident, to reschedule the event, but he refused.
When Lowe was on the beach earlier Sunday, she said there were only about 150 people with floats surrounding Blow's music-filled tent.
That changed later, however, as float-carrying beachgoers continued to arrive, even into later afternoon. Amid the beach blankets, lounge chairs and multicolored tents were floats large and small, ranging from traditional beach tubes to fanciful sea creatures, some as large as the cars and vans that brought them.
Some, confused by Blow's last-minute change of location to the county beach park north of the Loews Don CeSar Hotel, left the city with their floats still tied atop their cars. Other beachgoers had their cars towed after parking illegally.
Nonetheless, Blow called the event a success.
"I am very satisfied," he said. "I just wanted my fans to have some fun."
David Gay of Madeira Beach heard about the float party from a friend and decided to attend. He now calls himself a Blow fan. "He's the coolest," said Gay.
Others were just happy that the event didn't come with any extra drama.
"This is the way is should be," Gualtieri said.