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Paradegoers happy to see floats return to Guavaween

TAMPA — It had been two years since the Mama Guava Stumble parade included floats, krewes and beads as it drifted down Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.

And Guavaween diehards were glad to see the old-style stumble return Saturday night.

"It's a part of the fun," said Teresa Kisosondi, 58, a cake decorator from Riverview. She attended last year's stumble parade, which featured only costumed marchers. Organizers, she said, "thought it was going to be more interactive, but it wasn't the same."

Phillip Saladino said he knows the reason: Floats come with DJs.

"Look around. Music is what makes the people move," said Saladino, a past president of the Rough Riders, whose float started off the parade.

Last year's Guavaween featured live music on stages, and clubs did their best to fill the void by blasting their music into the streets until they opened doors.

But Saturday, as the floats rolled down Seventh, blasting current hits and tossing beads at anything moving, the crowd's excitement rose with the bass.

Although authorities did not release attendance figures Saturday night, the crowd appeared to be smaller than in years past, as large swaths of the route remained empty.

Still, newcomers were in awe of the costumed revelry and the drinking in the streets.

"My sister just moved here, and we heard good things, so we came out," said Pam DuPont, 49, of Venice. She got several compliments on her head-to-toe gold ensemble — even gold lipstick — topped off with a "Cash for Gold" sign. "We got here early, and I'm having fun."

A Clearwater couple dressed as retro Batman and Robin said the barricades lining the streets to protect paradegoers from the floats made the event feel safer than other evenings in Ybor City.

"This is the most fun we've had in Ybor City," said Lindsay Woods, 24, a nursing home activities director.

"How they set this up, it's safer," said her husband, Joe Woods, 24, an admissions advisor. "We've felt comfortable the whole time."

Quite a feat considering some of the scream-inspiring costumes. Zombies were out in full force, slowly dragging their bloodied limbs to grab beers from street vendors. Kisosondi covered herself in glowing eyeballs, drawing looks from passers-by.

"I just wanted to do something original," she said.

Other notables included an 8-foot-tall Mardi Gras zombie, Indiana Jones, Al and Peggy Bundy from the classic show Married …with Children and several Shuffle Bots, the characters made famous by pop group LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem.

Quite a few paradegoers also stuck to the superhero theme of this year's Guavaween, busting out their Green Lantern, Captain America and even Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo.

But the star of the show was still the motorized parade.

Dale Smrekar, 61, a liquidator from Odessa, attended both years when the floats were gone. He's glad they're back.

"The first year, they brought in the horses — that was dangerous and foolish. The horses were almost out of control. Last year, they hardly had a parade at all. That was sad," he said. "We come to watch the floats and see the people in costume."

Paradegoers happy to see floats return to Guavaween 10/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2011 10:46am]
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