An election during a pandemic in a city still celebrating a Stanley Cup win. It was peak 2020 at Amalie Arena on Monday as mask-clad voters flocked to the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the start of early voting.
This is the first time Amalie Arena in Tampa has been used as an early voting site, and voters who showed up were treated to more than just a sense of accomplishing a civic duty — or a sticker.
Lord Stanley’s Cup held court from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so Tampa residents could bask in its glory on their way to and fro the voting booth. It was the first time hockey’s most-prized trophy visited an active voting location. And the scene in Thunder Alley was upbeat.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor mimed placing an “I voted” sticker on the cup. Thunderbug, the lightning’s antennaed mascot, tooled around on a bike. A DJ played “Uma Thurman” by Fall Out Boy while city staffers shimmied and smiled. There were “Bolts Vote” stickers and photo booth props.
The Lighting did not provide advance notice of the event, deciding instead to surprise voters, said Brian Breseman, the team’s senior director of communications.
Lines stayed relatively short at the downtown arena throughout the day, where voters could park for free in the green lot in order to cast their ballot.
The prospect of shorter lines and voting where Andrei Vasilevskiy blocks shots appealed to voters that typically visit other voting sites, including Davis Islands resident Lisa Reins.
The 46-year-old towed her 13-year-old son, Carter, with her to early voting. They wound up at Amalie Arena after seeing a line at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa.
The two were surprised to see the Stanley Cup awaiting.
Reins said she typically votes early, but this year it became even more important because of the pandemic. Waiting until Nov. 3 is risky, she said. “What if you’re quarantined or someone in your house is and you can’t go? That would be awful,” she said.
So Reins made sure to come out the first day early voting was available, decked out in a blue T-shirt and a Michelle Obama-esque “Vote” necklace.
Reins cast her vote inside, then she and her son joined the socially distanced line to get a selfie with Stanley.
“That was pretty cool because we hadn’t gotten to see it yet,” Reins said. Her son just smiled.