By Sharon Kennedy Wynne
TAMPA – Guavaween, that annual night of costumed revelry, has a superhero theme this year and headliners Eve 6 (Inside Out) and Tonic (If You Could Only See) as well as other musical acts on three stages. Of course, there's also the "Mama Guava Stumble" parade and costume contests. And the good news: Motorized floats are returning to Saturday's event after a two-year absence, so count on more beads to add to your costume.
After 16 years, the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is putting its own superhero strength to the test, taking over Guavaween from longtime promoter CC Event Productions. It canceled the annual Family Fun Fest usually held earlier in the day, but organizers said they expect to bring it back in the future. And it is eliminating the carnival vendors to better highlight local fare and increasing the number of stages from two to three.
Expect outrageously creative costumes, lewd and bawdy behavior and crowds along Ybor's main drag, Seventh Avenue, which is fenced in for the night with a cover charge – $12 in advance or $17 at the door. It doesn't give you free access to the clubs, and most will have their own cover charges as well. But this is one of the few times a year that you are allowed to walk around Ybor with a drink in your hand, and there will be beer stands set up throughout the area. For advance tickets, go to ybor.org.
Here are some of the highlights of this year's event:
• The motorized parade will have at least 20 krewes, up from fewer than a dozen last year.
• Instead of the carnival-type food vendors, local Ybor vendors will be setting up food stations, so you can get Al's Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que on the street. JJ's Cafe will have a hamburger and hot dog booth, among others.
• The costume contest has more cash awards to spread around. Instead of one top prize, there's a $1,000 prize for first place, $750 for second, and $500 for third. A special "best in theme" award of $250 goes to the costume that best reflects the Superheroes theme.
• Live entertainment will be featured on three stages from one end of Seventh Avenue to the other: the Q105 west-end stage, Centro Ybor food court and stage, and the Play 98.7 east-end stage. Pop punk carries the main stage with Eve 6 and Tonic, but there's also Coo Coo Ca Choo, those rockers of '60s earworms, and young Pasco County rockers Scilter, who are favorites of the local Cowhead radio show.
• For the Mama Guava Stumble, the parade floats are back, so krewes will be throwing lots of beads. But there's also people on bikes, Rollerblades, skateboards and even wagons meandering down the street. Join the fun if you feel creative.