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Police Chief Talks to Students about Gasparilla Changes

The pirates of the106th Annual Gasparilla Celebration invade Tampa this weekend and raise the potential for walking the plank, not into the water but to the Hillsborough County Jails, officials say as new rules will be enforced.

To help prevent UT students from walking the plank, Alumnus Jane Castor ‘81, Tampa Police Chief, held a seminar in Reeve’s theatre Tuesday night to help teach students how to enjoy the pirate day parade safely while still having a fun time and avoid being arrested.

The increasing amounts of overly intoxicated individuals, public urination, and underage consumption have become the new norm amongst Gasparilla goers angering Hyde Park and Bayshore residents.

This year with the help of Castor and her squad, they hope to not only curtail the amount of arrests made, but hopefully change the culture in which Gasparilla is celebrated.

“The real problem started about 2 years ago when belligerent videos of students started getting posted up on Youtube,” Castor says. “We meet every week with Hyde Park families concerned about the annual event, and this year we’ve really taken it up a notch with how many officers we’ll have along the parade route and in the back neighborhoods preventing people from bringing large sums of alcohol to Bayshore avenue.”

The informational meeting covered everything from the new parade route to the highly unanticipated new zero tolerance policy.

The new policy is going to be enforced as heavily as needed. This year if you participate in any disruptive behavior such as fighting, property damage, or trespassing, expect to be hauled away in a police cruiser on one of the most fun days of the year. But the zero tolerance won’t stop there, quality of life is also a huge concern amongst the police department this year. This includes anything from flashing for beads, to drinking open containers in public, or using fake identifications to obtain booze as an underage drinker or purchase it for underage partiers.

“I work every Gasparilla, and the drinking has gotten out of hand. It’s done to an excessive point now, and this year we simply won’t put up with it,” says Chief Castor. “Our officers are going to do their best to make the day as pleasant and injury free as possible.”

A large increase of port-o-lets and police will hopefully help alter this year’s Gasparilla culture, and set a new foundation for futures to come. With approximately $46 million dollars brought into the Bay area each year thanks to Gasparilla it makes sense that the city wants to keep it safe, but still enjoyable and memorable within fair boundaries.

Elbin Keeppanasseril, a Senior Senator of Student Government, has been to every parade since starting at UT and looks forward to this year’s event and doesn’t think it is as crazy as everyone says it is.
“The hype creates itself at times and makes students anticipate super wild antics,” Keeppanasseril said. “Of course there are circumstances when law needs to be brought into the picture, and I think this year people will become highly aware of that, but those are their own choices.”

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