Sunday, January 21, 2018
Events

Schedule change now has circus coinciding with Gasparilla

TAMPA — Sandwiching two performances of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus around the annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion on Jan. 28 sounds akin to an old clown car routine involving parade-goers and circus fans.

But officials with Amalie Arena and Feld Entertainment are confident downtown Tampa can successfully handle the influx of traffic next month.

The Ringling Bros. Circus traditionally begins its annual tour in the Amalie Arena during the first week of January. However, with Tampa hosting the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 9, representatives of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the Amalie Arena convened with executives from Feld Entertainment, the circus' parent company, to explore other possibilities.

With a variety of events surrounding the championship game scheduled for Curtis Hixon Park, the Tampa Convention Center and the arena, a date change seemed logical.

"The National Championship Game spurred the conversation because the reality is with things going on in Curtis Hixon, it could have impacted every day of the circus given the traffic and all the people that are going to be downtown," said Kevin Preast, Amalie Arena senior vice president of event management.

"With Gasparilla, it's only one day. From a circus-going experience for users as well as for police and the city, separating them out made a lot of sense."

Changing the dates also allows Amalie Arena to host a championship game media day on Jan. 7 and a media party on Jan. 8.

So now the circus will kick off its five-day run Jan. 25 and conclude on Jan. 29. The shows on Jan. 28, the day of the invasion, will be staged at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

"We know this is big for the city and the folks at the Lightning are going to be a part of it," said Bill Powell, Feld vice president of event marketing and sales, southern region. "They asked us if we could move to make sure our customers could be accommodated.

"We really don't have any concerns about it."

Officials are confident that the Saturday times will minimize traffic conflicts, and they draw that confidence from past experience.

Earlier this year, the Amalie Arena hosted Throwdown By The Bay after the parade with country acts Little Big Town and Chris Stapleton and reported no major problems. In 2015, fans flocked to downtown for the parade, a 1 p.m. performance of The Book of Mormon at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and a sold-out Lightning game that night.

Again, no major problems. Ditto for 2014 with the parade and a Lightning game.

"Most of the Gasparilla parade traffic usually clears out between 4:30 and 5:30," Preast said. "We open the gates for a concert or a Lightning game at 6 or 6:30. We didn't have any ingress issues last year."

Preast said the schedule change does create a couple of potential advantages for the circus. One, it allows the circus to move away from the holidays and possibly draw greater interest. Two, it gives the circus a chance to try a Friday morning "school show," which can be attended by preschoolers and children who are home schooled.

In many years, area public and private schools were still on winter break in the first week of January.

It also gives the circus a chance to capitalize on the Gasparilla frenzy. Asked if pirates will be incorporated into the show, Powell said, "We may have some surprises. You never know."

Contact Ernest Hooper at [email protected] Follow @hoop4you.

Comments
At end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, excitement builds

At end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, excitement builds

TAMPALife’s quite different at the tail end of the Gasparilla Children’s Parade than at the launching point.The funnel cakes and corn dogs are a bit less omnipresent. When the first cars and floats begin to journey down Bayshore Boulevard, you’re onl...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

SOUTH TAMPA Charles P. Hessemer, 90 years young and about as sharp as the palette knives he paints with, finds artistic inspiration in the costumed-clad revelers of Tampa’s favorite annual event. The details in Hessemer’s oil painting s...
Published: 01/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Tweed Ride: This popular leisurely bike ride around downtown St. Petersburg brings out ladies and gents in derby hats, vests, petticoats, lace-up boots and other fashionable vintage choices. Tea and scones served before the ride. After the ride, gath...
Published: 01/19/18
Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Fans of notorious street artist and activist Banksy won’t have to travel too far to see one of his original pieces, thanks to an exhibit opening on Jan. 27 at the Outer Space Gallery in Winter Haven. The "Haight Street Rat" will be on display, on the...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

Peter Mayle, whose international bestseller A Year in Provence sent countless tourists to the vineyards and lavender fields of Southern France, has died.In an email, Mr. Mayle’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, reported that he died Thursday in a hospital...
Published: 01/18/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Jan. 19

FestivalsFlorida Agriculture and Wildlife Expo and Rodeo: The three-day event will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Jan. 19, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 20 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Airport, 2495 Broad St., south of Brooksville. Features ...
Published: 01/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Steve Martin and Martin Short: The longtime actor-comedians and frequent collaborators present, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, featuring Martin’s bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. 7 p.m., Mahaffey Theater...
Published: 01/18/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

TAMPA — Jose Gaspar, mythical pirate, meet Lord Stanley of Preston. Hang out, get to know one another, have as much fun as possible during the wrinkle in time that makes possible what will likely be a one-time-only encounter. Next weekend, th...
Published: 01/18/18