In an unlit alley, 28 adults in black and white domino costumes swarmed ominously, shrieking bizarrely. "You push on us, we push back," said a boisterous man who called himself Vincent Domino.
"But we deliver," cohort Dominic Domino cackled. He offered his picture ID. A domino, of course.
Welcome to Guavaween V, the scaled-down Mardi Gras-style streetfest where a blurred line divides reality and fantasy.
At 6 p.m. Saturday partygoers streamed into Ybor City. Cavemen and Elviras by the dozens. Two Oreo cookies and a milk carton. Paul Harvey, a 27-year-old dental technician from Tampa, clutching a Budweiser-filled bottle and wearing only a diaper.
More than 100,000 revelers were expected to pack the streets of Ybor City by 10 p.m. for the fifth annual Guavaween, a Halloween costume party named for Mama Guava, the parade patroness. Proceeds from $15 concert ticket sales benefit the Ybor Chamber of Commerce and a revived theater group, the New Playmakers.
At least 140 Tampa police officers, the Red Cross and rescue crews were stationed at each street corner to control the crowds, said Tampa police Sgt. R. J. Guidara.
Crowds lined the streets early, waiting for the 8 p.m. parade. Some nervously skirted particularly vicious punk rockers, who wouldn't say whether they were in costume.
Lee Stelling and Gale Rash drove in from Pasco County with their Nikon cameras _ although they first blacked out the brand name to thwart theft. "I've lived there 18 years, and this is the first I've heard" of Guavaween, Stelling said. He stopped Snow White and what she referred to as the eighth dwarf, a skeleton with blinking red lights for eyes, and snapped their picture.
Musical bands set up at four places, and a costume contest was scheduled for 10 p.m.
Imagine your worst nightmares and your favorite fantasies. They were there. It was up to passers-by to figure out who was in costume _ and who was just naturally unusual.
Does Darrell Walker, 40, always wear a 1960s-style blue polyester leisure suit? "This is my Sunday best," he said, looking truly offended. (No, a friend finally confided. It was a Goodwill find.) And what about the five Hare Krishnas in gauzy orange sarongs? (They were real.)
Is Elvis alive? He was seen on 15th Street looking just a little gaunt.
Insurance company employee Gordon DeMouth, 26, shed his Yuppie suit and strolled in public in a scanty caveman costume.
"I feel okay as long as someone doesn't come up and yank it up," he said.