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Break out the Carmen Miranda costume and the maracas and get ready to dance the mambo, because Guavaween is here again. Guavaween? That's Ybor City's Latin-style Halloween Saturday night, a festive costume party that adds a bit of Mardi Gras spice to the usual Halloween madness.

With lots of street partying, rowdy music and a parade called the Mama Guava Stumble, Ybor City ushers in Tampa's wildest party led by the hilarious, fun-loving Mama Guava.

As legend has it, Mama Guava was conceived of a mysterious union between the pirate, Jose Gaspar, and a scrub palmetto on the very site where Ybor City now stands. After a raucous life of abandon spanning several centuries, Mama Guava has returned each year for Guavaween "to take the bore out of Ybor City."

Last year Mama Guava headed up the parade on an elephant, but this year it's rumored she'll arrive on a "Ship of Fools."

The unusual parade is full of parodies of Tampa life, and this year is expected to have the usual conglomeration of wacky participants. The event benefits the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce and the New Playmakers, an Ybor City theater group.

A preview of this year's entries includes some marching whiskey bottles, a group of 50 or so "Holy Rollers" skating in togas, and a giant Cuban sandwich marching in closed drill team formation.

A casket race down Seventh Avenue starts off the sixth annual Guavaween festivities at 6:30 Saturday night, followed by the Mama Guava Stumble at 8.

After the parade, the private parties begin at four locations: The

Ybor City ushers in Tampa's wildest party led by the hilarious Mama Guava.

Cuban Club, El Pasaje Plaza, Ybor Square Courtyard and a new location, "Pig Park," at Ninth Avenue and 17th Street.

This year an ambitious array of musical talent has been assembled to play at these parties. At Ybor Square will be Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts along with Liz Back on Booze and Midnight Brass.

At El Pasaje Plaza, 95 WYNF will present Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers with their hit song I'm Seventeen and local favorites, the Bobby Friss Band and Exploration X.

At the new "Pig Park" location, Power 93 will present a musical line-up including Rob Base (It Takes Two), Trinere, Tricia Leigh Fisher (Empty Beach), Timmy T, Doc Box and B Fresh (Slow Love) and Tracie Spencer.

The Cuban Club will feature the Johnny G. Lyon Band, Bleeding Hearts, Men From Earth, Autodrive, Factory Black, the Mike Paccelli Band, Forgotten Apostles and Infinidad.

Performing at stages throughout Ybor City will be Webbed Feet, Air Tight and Tragic Rabbit.

Since 150,000 people turned out last year, parking could be a problem. Remote parking will be available downtown, where buses will be running on Marion Street from early evening until the wee hours of the morning. There will also be buses from the Costco parking lot at 22nd Street and the Crosstown Expressway.


Guavaween begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Ybor City. The Mama Guava Stumble is at 8 and the parties begin after the parade. Guavaween tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the event. Tickets are required to attend the parties, and are available from all Ticketmaster locations. Call 287-8844 for ticket information or the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce at 248-3712 for more information.