Let's face it -- Tampa gets a nasty rap for being a boring, backwater and gritty city with a downtown that rolls up at 5 PM during the week.
But today, downtown Tampa and Ybor City pulsed with life like I have never seen before. The true strength of a downtown is not having a big event like a Gasparilla Parade once a year but several events that draw different groups during a full day with a growing residential population.
And that's exactly what happened today when thousands of USF fans descended on the Times Forum for a big USF-West Virginia hoops game at 12 noon. Hour earlier, thousands more pounded the pavement of Tampa in the big Gasparilla run. And over at Curtis Hixon Park across downtown was the Gasparilla art show with dozens and dozens of exhibitors and food vendors. And Ybor City hosted a craft beer festival event and its Saturday market. With clear weather and temps in the low 80s, it was a memorable day for Tampa.
Let's show the day in pictures.
I biked from Seminole Heights to the Times Forum and 15 minutes before tip-off between USF and West Virginia the line for tickets extended across the Forum plaza.
Whoa nellie, look at that long line for USF hoops tickets!
Then I pedaled over a block or two to the convention center and the finish of the Gasparilla runs and saw all types of finishers and celebrants. Like this fella who ran in his pirate's costume.
People relax after the race outside the convention center.
Then I biked the less than a mile from the convention center to the Curtis-Hixon Park where the Gasparilla art show was staged and saw something strange in downtown Tampa on the weekend. Gridlock!
Curtis-Hixon is a nice park -- just not too many places to secure your bike.
One of the locked bikes in the park was this ol' Schwinn Le Tour II. I biked a Le Tour across the country solo in the fall of 1983.
The Curtis Hixon Park has so few bike racks that people end up locking their bikes on this metal railing outside the park. Curts-Hixon needs more space to secure bicycles.
The green shirts from the Gasparilla race made it to the art show.
More and more people are using the bicycle to get around Tampa, like this guy.
The park setting offers a nice contrast to Tampa's skyline.
Talented glass artist Susan Gott of Seminole Heights makes a sale. I liked this shot showing her glass art with the glass building in the backdrop.
Check out this cool rig at the kids tent at the art show. Steve was working the tent and owns the bike.
There's Denise of Seminole Heights, performing some jazz songs at the art show.
I biked over to Ybor City via Nuccio Parkway and Ybor City was host to a craft beer festival -- and check out the line!
Ybor City also has its Saturday market.
A big day for Tampa. And while I was biking home in a bike lane on Nebraska Avenue, there was another bicyclist also using the bike lane -- great news when so many of the guys on bikes are biking on sidewalks. often against traffic.