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Center opening ends grandly

During Day Three of the grand opening of Tampa's new Convention Center the living was comparatively easy. Despite one minor glitch _ an escalator occasionally cutting off _ organizers pronounced the final day of feting the new center a success.

"Everything couldn't have gone smoother," said Linda Carlo, spokeswoman for the $140-million center. "We had an excellent turnout, better than we expected."

About 37,000 people turned out to inspect the sprawling coral-and-blue center. Carlo said about 106,000 people visited the center during the weekend celebration.

Sunday's highlights included an indoor volleyball game, a boat show, a bridal show, a new-car show, two home shows and a Jazzercize demonstration. There also were freebies from area businesses, airlines and hotels.

In the ballroom, performances from half a dozen gospel groups included the University of South Florida Gospel Choir and the Bell Shoals Baptist Church and St. John Mass Baptist Church choirs.

Organizers said the range of activities made the events especially hard to arrange.

"This will probably be the hardest event we ever do here," Carlo said. "It's difficult not because it is a grand opening but because there are so many different things going on."