TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor said Monday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers victory in Super Bowl 55 won’t pass into history without a chance for the city’s residents to hail their gridiron heroes.
And despite widespread footage of maskless crowds celebrating Sunday’s win in Ybor City and SoHo, Castor said she is confident the celebration of the team’s win can be done safely.
“We can’t have a historic event of this significance in our community and not celebrate it,” Castor told reporters outside the Tampa Convention Center. “We definitely have to celebrate this momentous occasion.”
The planning with the Buccaneers is underway and more details should become available on Tuesday or Wednesday, the mayor said.
Asked if she was concerned that a parade would become a super spreader event for the coronavirus, Castor expressed confidence that the majority of Tampa residents would do the right thing.
“It’s always going to be a concern. But, again, if we can get the majority of individuals wearing their masks, then we can tamp down and contain the spread of COVID-19,” Castor said.
Castor said a celebration would be held outdoors, lowering the risk. And she referenced the September boat parade after the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup win as a good example of a safe precedent.
“We didn’t see a spike ... after we won the Stanley Cup,” she said.
That event had plenty of people standing shoulder to shoulder without masks. Some fans drank from the Cup when players disembarked from their boats after the parade on the Hillsborough River.
Castor said the Super Bowl had been managed very well, especially considering it was held during a pandemic. And most people followed her executive order mandating outdoor masks in most of the city’s entertainment and tourist spots.
“Overall, I’m happy with the compliance,” she said.
Earlier Monday, Castor had taken a different angle when asked if she was concerned with the lack of mask compliance.
“It is a little frustrating because we worked so hard,” Castor said at an early morning news conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of the Super Bowl host committee.
Images of large crowds in Ybor City in the streets without masks spread over social media during the weekend.
At the earlier press conference, Castor said the “upside” of the festivities was that “the majority” of residents and businesses followed the rules. And she said the boost for local businesses and the opportunity to put Tampa on the world stage was valuable. She also noted the city handed out over 200,000 masks and constantly communicated the importance of wearing them.
Later, when asked if anyone had been cited under her mask order, which carries fines up to $500, Castor said she didn’t think so. She said any citations during a parade would “depend on the behavior” of spectators.
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The mayor also acknowledged that her order was “in contrast” to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s order last year prohibiting cities from fining individuals for ignoring local pandemic restrictions.
Her city attorney’s office was tasked with trying “to be able to balance that as best we can,” Castor said.