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Fresh off their Super Bowl win, the Bucs celebrated Tampa-style: on the water.
The boat parade kicked off at 1 p.m. today, starting on the Hillsborough River near Armature works before wrapping up at Port Tampa Bay a few hours later.
Tampa Bay Times reporters and photographers sent updates from the festivities. Here’s what they saw.
Cameron Brate is very relieved he didn’t drop the Lombardi Trophy in the Hillsborough River.
Tom Brady threw the Lombardi Trophy from his boat to Cameron Brate on another boat.
“That was the best catch of my life,” Brate said. “Unbelievable. That was THE best catch of my life. If I had dropped that? I think I would’ve had to retire. That was amazing. He pointed it at me. We talked about it earlier. It was a great throw. I mean, what do you expect from Tom Brady. A great throw.”
Coach Bruce Arians also weighed in on today’s event.
“I’ve been in a great number of parades,” Arians said. “Nothing compares to this one. The uniqueness and the number of people out on the water. I don’t think anybody went to work or school today. That was awesome. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
Dancing, drumming at Port Tampa Bay
There’s plenty of cheering, jumping and drinking now that players have returned to shore. DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” plays over loudspeakers. Not many masks are seen, though. Did they leave them on the boats?
While giving speeches, both players and coaches were hyped up, often dropping foul language.
The Lombardi Trophy made it to dry land. Chris Godwin’s phone wasn’t so lucky.
Tom Brady has made it back to shore, the Lombardi Trophy safely in his arms after his dramatic 20-foot toss across the water. The same cannot be said for Chris Godwin’s cell phone. According to Mike Evans’ Instagram Live stream, Scotty Miller dropped his phone into the water during the parade.
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Boats are starting to land at Port Tampa Bay
After a boisterous frolic along the river, boats are approaching the end of the parade route. Several players will speak at a private event with some members of the media.
No one brought footballs, so Brady tossed the trophy
Tom Brady threw the Lombardi Trophy from his boat about 20 feet across the water to another party boat carrying Bucs receivers and tight ends.
Don’t worry, they caught it.
After the toss, Rob Gronkowski and his girlfriend, Camille Kostek, kissed the trophy together.
Thousands line the Hillsborough River
As the parade passed the Sykes building, thousands of screaming football fans watched as players and their friends cruised by on boats.
There’s a parade today?
They arrived outside a Port Tampa Bay cruise terminal shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday. Not to celebrate a Lombardi Trophy, but a life.
Heather Vaughan and Jennifer Lupo, both furloughed from their jobs at a company that services cruise lines, had long since arranged their drive-through baby shower outside the terminal to honor Lupo’s 2-month-old daughter, Carolyn.
”It just so happened to fall on (Bucs) boat-parade day,” Vaughan said. So as Bucs officials, cops and K-9 units secured the area where Wednesday’s parade was set to end, shower attendees talked their way through the security to reach Vaughan and Lupo, parked several yards away at the north end of a sprawling parking lot. By 1 p.m., Lupo’s blue Honda Civic was stuffed with sweets, boxes of diapers and infant toys.
”I think we’re just grateful we have a team that cares,” Lupo said. A team of co-workers, that is. As for that other team in town?
”We are thrilled they won,” Vaughan said.
Fans, new and old, show spirit
Jimmy Gerakios has been a Bucs fan “pretty much forever,” having grown up in the Tampa Bay area. He wasn’t able to celebrate much Sunday night, as he was working the stadium helping people get around by driving a golf cart.
But on Wednesday, the 18-year-old Tarpon Springs resident celebrated by donning an Evans jersey and staking out on the Curtis Hixon waterfront with a pole sporting the American flag, a Bucs flag, a Lightning flag and a Rays flag.
”We had high expectations for all the Tampa Bay teams,” he said.
When the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, Gerakios made sure to attend that parade too. He said he was excited to celebrate another local victory.
”It feels great,” he said. “I wish we had one for the Rays too but couldn’t make it happen.”
Andy Grengs wasn’t afraid to show off his Patriots Tom Brady jersey among a bunch of Bucs fans Wednesday afternoon. Grengs, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, moved to Madeira Beach with his wife, Sara, and daughter, Stella, in August.
Like Brady, he switched his winter clothes for flip-flops and was more than thrilled to see his favorite quarterback win his seventh title on Sunday.
”It’s really cool to be here for the Super Bowl experience,” Grengs said.
The party is on
Bucs coach Bruce Arians is riding in a smaller boat and holding the Lombardi Trophy. He’s joined by general manager Jason Licht, spotted earlier toting a pack of Bud Light. Meanwhile, Antoine Winfield Jr. was seen carrying a WWE championship belt. Jane Castor took shots with Rob Gronkowski on a boat.
Fans happy to leave behind darker days
Lorenzo Laporte brought a megaphone to Wednesday’s parade, leading non-stop chants of “TAMPA — BAY” and “KANSAS CITY — SUCKS.” He’s a Tampa native who graduated from Leto High School in 2010. He was too young to appreciate the Bucs’ first Super Bowl win. What Laport does remember vividly, however, was the decade of “atrocious play, blackouts because we couldn’t fill the stands, free tickets to everybody and all-around irrelevancy.”
”Number 12 changes all of that, though,” said Laporte, 29. “He made all of those hard times worth the wait. There’s never been a Super Bowl win as sweet as this.”
GOAT on a boat
Tom Brady was spotted just before 1 p.m., welcomed by cheering fans. Here’s what we know about his swanky custom boat.
The athletes arrive
Bucs players starting showing up at the docks near Amature Works on buses at about 12:15 pm. Many of them, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, were drinking a beer. Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul carried a boom box. Fans have been lining up on the Hillsborough River hours before the boat parade, waving Bucs flags and blowing air horns.
Where to watch
For those who want to celebrate in person, here’s a map of the parade route.
Skipping work to set up
Tim and Jamie Hershberger knew where they wanted to be when the Bucs announced Wednesday’s boat parade along the Hillsborough River. Jamie would call into work for the day off and Tim would move some appointments around so he could enjoy the parade with his wife, brother-in-law and nephew.
The Gulfport residents came prepared with their “beach setup,” which included a large umbrella, some folding lounge chairs, a rolling cart, snacks and a football to toss around to kill the time after their 10:30 a.m. arrival. The Hershbergers, who moved back to the Tampa area from Missouri last fall, missed the Lightning’s boat parade in October. But they found the idea of one pretty “genius” when the Bucs decided that was how they wanted to celebrate.
”It’s Tampa, completely,” Tim, 42 and dressed in his black Devin White Super Bowl 55 jersey, said. “It’s perfect.”
The Hershbergers have been in “bliss” since the Bucs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night. They went to bed around 1 a.m. Monday and haven’t come down from the high. Tim thought the team would make it deep into the postseason while his wife, Jamie, 41, pegged the Bucs to go all the way once the team signed Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
”Expectations were definitely exceeded,” Tim said.
“Tompanians are ready to celebrate”
Ahead of the festivities, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor posted a video addressing Tom Brady.
“I know we’ve been through a lot in that last year, including that unfortunate incident in the park last April -- yeah, that was awkward,” she said. “And then the trespassing in that guy’s house? Not ideal.”
She continued on to remind him that she pardoned him so he could focus on football.
“Congratulations to you and all the Bucs team and staff for winning Super Bowl 55 and for the incredible experience for all the Tompanians in our city,” she said.
Was Champa Bay not enough? Let us know how you feel about being a “Tompanian” in our Twitter poll.
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