YBOR CITY—If you still haven't confirmed your New Year's Eve plans, the Outback Bowl Parade and Pep Rally poses a viable option.
Nearly 10,000 people attend the festivities each year and this year should not differ.
The annual family and friend-oriented parade kicks off at 5:30 p.m. along 7th Ave featuring festive floats passing out beads and more, appearances from the Outback Steakhouse mascots, both the Bloom Man and the Shrimp Girl, which represent the chain's two popular appetizers, the Bloomin' Onion and the Coconut Shrimp, and performances from 13 high school bands from across the country.
Following the parade, the University of Iowa and Mississippi State bands, representing the two teams competing in this year's game, will take the stage for separate performances at a pep rally that takes place in Centro Ybor at the 16th street and 7th Ave intersection.
The New Year's Eve parade and pep rally are just one of the many Outback Bowl events that begin in the summer and end at the end of the year leading up to the big game at the Raymond James stadium on New Year's Day (Jan. 1). Other events include a team night at the Lightning game on Thursday (Dec. 27), a players night at Splitsville in Sparkman Wharf on Friday (Dec. 28), beach day at Clearwater Beach on Sunday (Dec. 30) and the MetLife/Audi Gridiron Gala, also on Sunday (Dec. 30).
The game matches two of college football's best teams from the SEC and Big Ten Conference.
Outback Steakhouse gives away a free appetizer depending on the winner of the game the next day. If the SEC team wins, then the restaurant gives away a Bloomin' Onion, and if the Big Ten team wins, they give away Coconut Shrimp.
"It's really a fun time," said Mike Schulze, the Outback Bowl director of communications.
"It gives people who may not be fans of the teams a reason to root for a particular team over the other depending on their favorite appetizer."
Contact Monique Welch at email@example.com.