Watch out, and slow down: That's the message drivers on Brandon Boulevard are seeing this week during Nativity Catholic Church's Novemberfest.
After three pedestrians were injured crossing busy streets at last year's event, officials began this year's five-day fundraiser on Wednesday with new public safety measures to ensure the 41st annual Novemberfest stays all about the fun and games.
"Keeping the patrons safe is our first and foremost priority," said Novemberfest chairman R.J. Brauneker.
In addition to scrolling message boards on both sides of Brandon Boulevard, safety officials from the Florida Highway Patrol are monitoring bordering streets and crosswalks, Brauneker said.
Officials also strongly encourage visitors to park on the south side of Brandon Boulevard on Nativity grounds, he said. The church has partnered with local businesses to make additional parking available on that side of the street.
Billed as the third-largest annual social event in Hillsborough County — behind the Florida State Fair and the Florida Strawberry Festival — Novemberfest will attract some 100,000 people this year, Brauneker said.
This year, Novemberfest builds upon its annual offerings of midway rides, raffle prizes, international foods and local entertainment with a Veterans Day tribute, bingo and nightly "Novemberfest Idol" competition.
"What we're trying to do is cater something to all different age groups," Brauneker said. "It's a safe environment, it's family fun and a good event for the local community to participate in."
The "Idol" contest will award two finalists with recording sessions donated from a local studio, he said.
Stephanie Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443.