Joe Biden headed to Sims Park

NEW PORT RICHEY — Democratic campaign officials confirmed Friday that vice presidential nominee Joe Biden will hold a rally Monday in Sims Park as part of an "Early Vote for Change" bus tour through central and south Florida.

The campaign also released a few rules for people planning to attend the rally, slated to begin at 7:30 p.m., at the riverside park anchoring the city's downtown:

You don't need tickets, though the campaign is encouraging people to RSVP on its Web site. You can't bring banners and signs — pro-Obama or otherwise — into Sims Park. You can't bring large bags or backpacks. Parking is limited, so you should carpool.

The perimeter of Sims Park, which can hold 10,000 people, will be fenced and secured so there will be only one entry point, on Bank Street behind the Hacienda Hotel. City police and Secret Service will oversee that entrance, and attendees should expect to have their purses or other belongings searched, said New Port Richey police Lt. Jeff Harrington.

The gate opens at 5:30 p.m.

Bank Street and the core area around Orange Lake will be closed, just as for any event in Sims Park, he said. Main Street will not be shut down.

Finding a parking space probably won't be easy. One city lot, just east of the Hacienda, will be reserved for handicapped parking.

Other city lots, including the one off Nebraska Avenue and one at Main and Adams streets, will be open.

Biden's visit will mark the first major appearance in Pasco by a Democratic contender since Jimmy Carter stumped at Southgate Plaza nearly 30 years ago.

President Bush rallied at Sims Park in the 2004 campaign, and a few GOP contenders hit Pasco before this year's presidential primary.

Bush won Pasco by 10 percentage points over John Kerry in 2004, four years after Democrat Al Gore narrowly won the county.

County Republican chairman Bill Bunting has said he plans Monday to hold a "greeting party" to get Republican nominee John McCain's message out, too.

Times Staff Writer David DeCamp contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

>>if you go

Tell the campaign you're coming

The Obama campaign is trying to get a headcount of how many people to expect at Joe Biden's rally Monday in Sims Park. If you want to RSVP, go to http://fl.barackobama.com.

Joe Biden headed to Sims Park 10/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 4:18pm]

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