With the Key to the City now on the minds of the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, city staff across departments are working hard to prepare for their imminent invasion.
From public safety, to clean up, it has been 'all hands hoay' the past few weeks to ensure the pirate takeover runs smoothly and normalcy can return as quickly as possible once they retreat back to the waters of Tampa Bay.
"I want to give a very special shoutout to all our city team members who help make Gasparilla possible," said Mayor Jane Castor. "Because of your hard work and dedicated service, we are able to give our residents and visitors an experience like no other."
Over the past 20 years, clean-up time has been cut from 18 hours to approximately three hours. The Tampa Parks and Recreation, Mobility, and Solid Waste departments all work together to remove the unwanted loot from the parade route spanning 4.5 miles. Last year, 21 tons of garbage was collected by the Solid Waste Department.
In preparation, this week more than 3,200 trash boxes are being assembled by Tampa Parks and Recreation staff and will be distributed along the parade route the day before. Once the pirates make their way through Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa Parks and Recreation will be responsible for supervising tree clean-up, to remove beads, balloons, and other items that missed their mark. The Bead Reuse Program, managed by the city Recycling Team, in partnership with the MacDonald Training Center, also begins its operation at that time, collecting, cleaning, and repackaging beads to be used during the next parade season. Last year, over 330,000 individual bead necklaces, weighing over 10,000 lbs., were delivered to the MacDonald Training Center for reuse.
The Mobility Department will be deploying 6 mechanical sweepers after the parade is done. Last year, they covered a total of 228 miles, nearly the distance between Tampa to Miami. The sweepers have to sweep the parade route several times to ensure all trash is collected. In addition to clean-up, the department is also responsible for the set up and break down of the event barriers, with an entirely separate team dedicated to monitoring cleanup efforts from the Emergency Operations Center and the Traffic Management Center.
Public safety agencies, like the Tampa Police Department, Tampa Fire Rescue, and other partners are also working around the clock to secure the parade route and monitor the day's events. Nearly every police specialty unit is activated to provide security from land, air, and sea, reminding all Tampanians their city is still safe even during an invasion.