Tampa Mayor plays hostage in annual demonstration that draws big crowd

New DoD budget has conference attendees optimistic
Posted at 5:27 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 18:47:13-04

TAMPA — Tampa's mayor Bob Buckhorn was kidnaped, and then rescued, as part of a demonstration that's become a kind of tradition during the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa this week.

The demonstration is a rare glimpse at the work done by special operations forces, who usually work in the cover of darkness in dangerous parts of the world.

"My kids, they know he deploys and flies a helicopter but they got to see everything else, the seal team, the paratroopers dropping. It was awesome," says Alison Espinoza to ABC Action News. Her husband was involved in the demonstration Wednesday.

And it wasn't just military families in attendance. Hundreds of people watched on from nearby restaurants, hotels, apartments and parking garages to view the event.

"For civilians to be able to see what they do in very real terms and experience it sort of from a distance, you can appreciate what it takes to do their job," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn after the demonstration, in which he played the role of hostage as an international team of forces comes to his rescue.

The demonstration is just a small part of the week-long industry conference.

Inside the Tampa Convention Center, companies from all over the world, including the Tampa Bay Area, are showing off what they do.

"It's a big event, and it's local," says David McComas, of the Tampa-based AC4S, an information technology and communication support company that's been coming to the conference every year for at least a decade now.

This year, says McComas, there's optimism that newly announced plans to increase the budget for Department of Defense spending, by as much as $150 billion more per year, will be good news for his company and other companies in the Tampa Bay Area.

"We’re very excited about all the resources that are going to be applied to the Department of Defense and how that's going to flow down to our local economy," says McComas to ABC Action News." The jobs and the opportunities we’ll be able to grow here in the Tampa Bay Area."

The conference wraps up on Thursday.