Gasparilla draws hundreds of thousands of people to Tampa, but this year not everyone is here to watch the parade. On Saturday, a select group will have their eyes on Tampa police instead of the floats.
Seventeen police chiefs and commanders from across the country are in town for a crime fighting symposium that includes observing the Gasparilla parade security.
In the quiet before the storm, ABC Action News was allowed to tagalong with Tampa Police Lt. Michael Flynn as he showed one of the visiting assistant police chiefs what goes in to keeping the streets safe during an event this size.
"I'm not sure the average citizen understands all that goes into planning an event and making it successful," Flynn said.
"We have a lot of presidential visits and so forth, but this is a big event." Asst. Chief Jay Lanham of Prince William County, Virginia remarked.
And as we learned - it takes a lot of pre-planning.
Inside Tampa Police Headquarters they've set up a Joint Operations Center, which will act as the hub for all of the information and decision-making.
"Everybody has a certain function in the JOC that all coordinates with each other like spokes in a wheel," said Flynn. "Suspicious packages, suspicious cars, anything will come through this center."
Through technology like SAFECOP and E-sponder, police in the JOC can then send any information they get out to officers in the field in real time.
Police officers in the JOC can also monitor Bayshore through the multiple closed-circuit cameras that are spread out up and down the parade route.
This year, TPD says Gasparilla-goers can also expect to see many more boots on the ground.
"We have a lot of families that come down here because it's such a great event," said Flynn. "We want to make sure that the children, the people that live here and work here, and visit are just safe."
Response teams will be stationed throughout the parade route. The Emergency Operations Center will also be activated for the duration of the event.