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Julianne Neilson of Seminole wasn't taking any chances Thursday.

So, she and friend Theo Grant took turns holding their spots at the front of the line for the opening night of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday at Coachman Park. They arrived at 12:30 p.m.

"I've wanted to see Tony Bennett my whole life," Neilson said. "Now I get to see him."

Carol and Theo Grant of Clearwater were just as excited. Carol spent the day driving from a Texas vacation to get back for the festival.

"I've been driving and wasn't here to get a spot," Carol Grant said, as she sat in a lawn chair. "So my wonderful husband got in line for me."

The festival ends today with a full lineup of musical entertainment, capped by headliner Patti Austin.

For most attendees, it was a weekend of bobbing to the grooves of saxophones, bass guitars and the voices of smooth crooners.

It was a time for basking in the sun and moonlight of a beautiful waterfront park, greeting old friends and meeting new ones as well as enjoying a variety of food and drink.

Danny Hernandez, owner of Pipo's Cafe and Catering of Tampa, who was stirring paella, a Spanish dish of shrimp, mussels, pork, scallops, clams and yellow rice, said the economy will not affect a great time.

"Jazz and good food," Hernandez said, "will put a smile on anyone's face."

Don't bring: coolers - food - drinks - pets - tents - backpacks - umbrellas - audio or video recording equipment - laser pointers - skateboards - weapons - fireworks

Bring: lawn chairs - blankets - sunscreen - still cameras

Tips: Arrive early for the best viewing. - Turn off cell phones and pagers during performances. Parking: Available in nearby lots and garages. See map.

Today's lineup

The headliner: Patti Austin and the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Orchestra, 8:30-10 p.m.: The '80s R&B hitmaker (Baby Come To Me, How Do You Keep the Music Playing? The Heat of Heat) joins the Orlando-based Craig Turley Orchestra, augmented with a string section.

Another good bet: Joey DeFrancesco, 6:30 to 8 p.m. DeFrancesco is probably the best-known inheritor of the B-3 organ jazz tradition exemplified by Jimmy Smith and Brother Jack McDuff.

Also playing, Ruth Eckerd Hall/Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Jazz Youth Band with Billy Norris, 1:45-2:30 p.m.; The Venturas, 3-4:15 p.m.; the Eldar Djangirov Trio, 4:45 to 6 p.m.