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Tampa bridge will be turned into a 1,000-foot water slide

TAMPA — The N Boulevard Bridge in Tampa will be turned into a 1,000-foot water slide May 14, says the owner of Slide the City, a Utah-based entertainment company that will set up a one-day block party near the Hillsborough River.

It wasn't easy finding an incline in flat Florida, said Spencer Hunn, owner of the year-old events company that set up such slip-and-slides in 75 cities last year.

"This is the first bridge slide we've ever done," Hunn said. "We Utah boys love to sled and ski, so I would think it would be fun to be able to sled in Tampa for the first time ever."

But he needs to sell at least 4,000 tickets to make the event financially viable, Hunn said, so the company is taking early bird registration at slidethecity.com.

Early prices through April 8 are $10 for a single slide and $25 to $45 for unlimited sliding in two- and four-hour blocks. The prices then gradually climb until the day of the event, which will be $20 for a single ride and $45 to $65 for unlimited rides.

Last year some Slide the City events were canceled in Virginia, Oregon and Washington as promoters ran into challenges selling enough tickets or getting permits because of safety concerns.

Hunn said the vast majority of his company's events have been a success. The company has put in place safety features to prevent injuries, and he said there will be a family lane set up so that kids won't be riding with rowdy adults.

"We've had over 100 events now and we've had no major injuries," Hunn said. "We've had a few bumps and bruises that, frankly, were people who were not careful."

Sliders must be at least 5 years old and 46 inches tall. Tubes are for single sliders only, and lap riding is not allowed. Unlimited ride tickets include an inner tube. Single-ticket riders can either bring their own inner tube or buy one starting at $5.

Donna McCallister, special event coordinator for the city of Tampa, helped Hunn find an incline in flat Florida.

"We were excited about this idea when they called us, but I told him there's no hill here; that's kind of hard to find," McCallister said.

But then she set her sights on the N Boulevard Bridge, which crosses the Hillsborough River in front of Blake High School. The bridge is already closed to traffic as N Boulevard from Cypress to Cass streets is closed while work crews install a new 36-inch water pipeline and new drainage improvements.

So the neighborhood wouldn't be affected by the bridge being closed for a water slide, she said.

The adjacent block party will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the empty lots next to the historic Armature Works building on the river, and parking will be handled by Slide the City dealing with private lot owners, she said.

The city has weighed in on safety and environmental concerns and is satisfied, she said.

"We had a meeting with his team, and the bridge has a pedestrian walkway so there is room for this," McCallister said.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

Tampa bridge will be turned into a 1,000-foot water slide 02/26/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2016 8:50pm]
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