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Night parade returns to Ybor stop

When the end of the route for the Sant'Yago Knight Parade was changed last year in an attempt to curb congestion and ensure a family friendly atmosphere, its organizers, the Krewe of Sant'Yago, vowed to bring it back to its original stop: the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

They didn't have to put up much of a fight. Turns out, last year's route didn't make much of a difference; even though the parade ended downtown, people still crowded the streets of Ybor City.

So, the popular night parade will once again come to a halt at its traditional spot _ 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue _ where it ended for decades.

The city had feared that families who gathered for the night parade were mixing in with the rowdy crowds of Ybor's night life. And some business owners complained of the mess left behind by partiers and parade participants, who break down their floats and converge along Seventh Avenue.

Key to the decision to end the parade in Ybor City was the Krewe's assurance that the parade would end by 9:30 p.m., giving families time to go home before the night crowd showed up, said Bill Palmisano, parade chairman for the Krewe of Sant'Yago.

To guarantee a 9:30 p.m. conclusion, the Krewe restricted its parade to 110 units, he said.

"We didn't have to fight anything," Palmisano said. "The city was very cooperative."

It helped that the city saw the economic benefits to ending the parade in Ybor, he said, because partiers tend to patronize the businesses.

Stopping in Ybor is not only tradition, he said, but fun.

"I'd say 90 precent of the parade participants voiced concerns over the lack of fun in the different route," he said.

Last year's path took the parade from Ybor City to downtown.

Jill Wax, owner of La France, a boutique at 1612 E Seventh Ave. was an original supporter of the move away from Ybor.

However, she said Wednesday that last year's result wasn't what she had expected. People converged on Ybor anyway.

"It definitely helped a little bit last year, but it wasn't enough to make a difference," Wax said. "When the parade was over, and I was leaving, there were throngs of people."

The popular night parade, on Feb. 21 this year, is expected to draw about 200,000 people.

It begins at 6 p.m. at Brush Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard and will twist and turn its way west on Kennedy, north on Pierce Street, east on Twiggs Street, north on Nebraska Avenue to Nick Nuccio Parkway and then north on Nuccio to Seventh Avenue, where it ends at 23rd Street.

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