TAMPA - Guavaween is just around the corner, but one of Ybor City's biggest parties is scaling back for its 27th year.
The question for many now: What will this mean for the Guavaween they have come to know and love?
For the thousands of people that attend each year, the 20+ bands that perform and the dozens of bars and restaurants that live through Guavaween each year, it seems the future will undoubtedly be different from anything "the regulars" have ever seen.
About 20,000 people made their way through the streets of Ybor for last year's Guavaween celebration. But this year, organizers of the event say they are expecting a much smaller crowd because of some changes.
"There will be no wet zone, but on the other hand, there will be no fence, so you don't have to worry about those problems," says Tom Keating, President and CEO of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. "Things are matured a lot among the years."
Keating says a big reason for that scaled-back crowd, in addition to not being contained inside a fencing perimeter, is the elimination of the Latin festival's big parade. Guavaween organizers say they tried to work out a deal with the City of Tampa for them to continue their co-sponsorship of the parade, but it was denied.
"We made a strong attempt at doing that for this year," says Mark Hamburg, Guavaween Committee Chairman. "We did submit for a parade application. We gave our best pitch to get the city to co sponsor to keep those cost down, but in the end we were not successful."
Hamburg says added costs like the fencing barricades, additional security, among other things add up to around $45,000 and without the money from the City of Tampa, Ybor City couldn't afford it this year.
While there may not be large floats on a parade route this year, there still will be plenty of costumes, pageantry and music. After all, event organizers say, Guavaween is a music festival with wristbands on sale for access to the various venues. And with 20 or more acts performing for that weekend, it still promises to be a good time.
Even better, some restaurant managers we spoke with say the absence of the large fence will actually help their business. They think more people will be able to make it into the area and won't have to worry about the eyesore the barricades provided in years past.
Wristbands are available for all the music venues, $20 to purchase now and $30 the day of the event.
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