Saturday, December 16, 2017
Public safety

Tampa police, big crowd wreck 'Rick & Morty' Rickmobile event

TAMPA — More than 1,500 fans of the definitely-not-for-little-kids cartoon Rick & Morty overtook a bar and its surrounding neighborhood Wednesday night, creating such a big crowd that the event was riggity riggity wrecked when Tampa police officers and organizers had to end it early.

Rick & Morty is an animated science fiction comedy about the interdimensional adventures of depraved scientist Rick and his anxious grandson Morty, which has produced a cult hit for Cartoon Network.

The "Rickmobile" — a truck bearing Rick's likeness — has been taking a road trip across the country, opening its pop-up shop with exclusive merchandise and gear in different cities.

Wednesday was Tampa's turn. And unfortunately the event was about as chaotic as an episode of Rick & Morty: Attendees parked on peoples' lawns, littered and drank outside designated areas, ignoring instructions from the tavern and police.

Bar co-owner Cliff Stevenson, a huge fan of the show himself, said he's sympathetic to those who were turned away.

"We did everything we could," he said Thursday. "The line was simply more than was expected from both parties ... and what we could handle."

The bar's other owner, Robert Leonard, said the bar itself reached capacity before 6 p.m. So workers could only let people in as others left, creating another line.

"Between the poor setup, the lack of parking, the lack of places to stand, and the obvious lack of organization ... no wonder it was shut down," said attendee Jon Lee, 30, of Temple Terrace.

Lines to see the Rickmobile, buy merchandise and enter the Parcade snaked through the neighborhood. Lee said when those in line stood on the grass, neighbors were upset, but when they were in the street, the off-duty officers hired to monitor the event told them to move.

The waiting line had to be capped at 1,500 people — which happened at about 5:30 p.m.

"But that didn't stop hundreds of more people from showing up," Lee said.

The Parcade opened at 3 p.m. and the truck was scheduled to begin sales at 5 p.m. and end at 8 p.m Lee said he got in line to see the Rickmobile and buy his gear by 4:15 p.m. Worried about the line, the truck started selling merchandise early at 4:30 p.m.

PREVIOUS: 'Rick and Morty' Rickmobile is coming to Tampa

Then around 7:30 p.m., police stopped the sale and told people to leave. The bar owners said the decision to close out the lines was a joint one.

"Safety was our top concern," said Stevenson, who spent much of the night trying to make sure people in line stayed hydrated.

James Kirkbride, 33, said he was five people away from buying the items he'd been waiting three hours for when police started telling people to leave.

"They flatly told all volunteers and those selling merchandise to completely shut it down and to stop all transactions," he said. "People were mid-purchase and had to stop."

Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said that while the event organizers hired two off-duty officers, additional officers were dispatched to "assist with crowd control and keep traffic flowing around the area." Police also wrote several parking tickets.

.

Lee said it should have been held at a bigger venue that could accommodate the massive crowd that turned up to celebrate show. His partner even spent the day under the hot sun in an elaborate Mr. Meeseeks costume so good people probably assumed he was a Rickmobile employee.

"I have respect for the people who came out in full costume in that heat," Stevenson said. "That shows that dedication."

The bar owners welcome anyone disappointed and in need of hugs (or beer) to come back on Sunday nights. That's Rick & Morty night at the bar, where they watch the show from 11 p.m. to midnight.

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

Comments

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

TAMPA — Three firefighters were injured early Saturday morning while battling a fire at a strip mall on W Waters Avenue, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.Firefighters said the blaze started around 2:45 p.m. in the attic of L.A. Nail Supply, located at ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Published: 12/15/17
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Published: 12/15/17

Tampa bicyclist, 52, dies after being rear-ended by vehicle; no charges

TAMPA — A 52-year-old man riding a bicycle was killed early Friday when he was struck from behind by a car in Seminole Heights, according to Tampa police.The incident took place at about 12:15 a.m. Wayne Kersh, 52, was riding his bicycle in the eastb...
Published: 12/15/17
After third fire at former Ybor City bathhouse, arrest is made

After third fire at former Ybor City bathhouse, arrest is made

TAMPA — A 46-year-old man was arrested Friday and accused of setting fire to a vacant Ybor City bathhouse hit by arson at least two other times earlier this year.Two Tampa police officers spotted smoke from the vacant building at 1512 E Eighth Ave. a...
Published: 12/15/17

FHP: Overturned pick-up slowed traffic on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — A pick-up truck towing a car onto the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge overturned and crashed on the shoulder, causing back-ups for motorists trying to get to Tampa, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident was reported...
Published: 12/15/17
New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

The Miami Beach-based Animal Recovery Mission has released a video from its undercover abuse investigation at a Central Florida dairy farmThe graphic video, with disturbing images of cows cruelly being beaten, speared, stabbed and burned, was shot by...
Published: 12/15/17

Missing Child Alert canceled for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for a 17-year-old Port St. Lucie girl who was last seen on Thursday.The case involving Heaven Flores has been resolved, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Published: 12/15/17

Hudson pedestrian killed while crossing U.S. 19

HUDSON — A Hudson man was killed Thursday night while crossing U.S. 19.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 59-year-old Gerald Berube was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 19 north of Stahl Drive around 6:40 p.m. when he walked into the path ...
Published: 12/15/17