RNC week wraps up with a look back at the famous faces that came through Tampa

Linda Hurtado's behind the party scene beat

TAMPA - We had a number of famous faces in town this week and I was lucky enough to snag the party beat before anyone else could ask for it.  I must admit I'm exhausted, but exhilarated.

Here are some observations from a working soccer mom from Lutz on the biggest show to ever come Tampa Bay.

My first impression of the Republican National Convention: wow - tight security.  I've never been through check points like the ones outside the Trop Sunday night or the ones around downtown Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Host Committee opened the week with a party for 20,000 at Tropicana Field. Headliner Rodney Atkins sang because, "We got to go to  Afghanistan this year and I had a bunch of soldiers, a Marine that lost both of his legs, that let me know go down there and tell them God Bless them."

From that moment on, it became clear to me that military and service were a big Republican Party theme. The 'Got Your 6' party at the Glazer Children's Museum hosted by Meghan McCain, raised money for wounded veterans, as did the Musicians On Call concert at the Dallas Bull where maybe 200 invited guests got to hear a up close and personal concert with top-forty hit maker Gavin DeGraw.

All of us ran into some famous faces in our world of journalism like Diane and George and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News and famous faces in world of politics including John McCain and Newt Gingrich. And I sat down for an exclusive local interview with Ann Romney, a woman who wants to be the next first lady.

I got to watch Mitt Romney's speech at the Times Forum from our sky box with two women who helped keep the train on the tracks for us all week - my 5 pm producer Kristin and director Felicia and those kids from Ellen show. Not the ones that sing Nicki Minaj -  but the ones who know all the presidents.

The Wheels Up Concert at Liberty Plaza -- a man-made tented venue near the Times Forum -- turned out to be the perfect end to a long week for all.

Standing beside Brendan McLaughlin and our web executive producer Blake Sabatinelli, we sang Don't Stop Believing with two thousand of our new friends and Reince Priebus, The Chairman of the Republican Party, who stood on the stairs right behind us.

We covered these events because most of them were invite only and we wanted our viewers to see what goes on inside. Who pays for all of this fun?  In a lot of cases, a variety of big-company sponsors - who in return get tickets to hand out to anyone they want.

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