Gasparilla: 400 arrests, most given citations

7:46 PM, Feb 1, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida --  Tampa Police say there was plenty of warning and yet they arrested more than 400 people during this year's Gasparilla event.  Only two dozen people were actually taken to jail, the rest were given a notice to appear in court.

"The 25 seminars, the 1,900 public service announcements, billboards, the intense media coverage... that was the warning," Marc Hamlin, TPD Assistant Chief.

Photo Gallery: Gasparilla 2010!

Of the 413 people arrested, a majority were give a notice to appear for open container. 

This year, Tampa Police, along with multiple other law enforcement agencies, boosted their efforts to crack down on bad behavior.

While they still have to meet with the area neighborhood associations, they say it appears the zero tolerance policy put in place this year worked.

"I think it went well.  I've gotten very positive feedback from the citizens in the neighborhoods, so far that things were tamer and things were better in the neighborhoods," said Hamlin.

If you ask Shirish Shah about Gasparilla, he'll tell you it's a day he usually feels like a prisoner in his own home.

"Usually I'm guarding my home," he said.

But even he knows, you can't get rid of a more than century old tradition.

"It's going to stay in the neighborhood, even the tamest of Gasparilla is going to be too wild for the neighborhood," he said.

So, instead of fighting to keep people off his property, he's letting them in.

"These are the toilets, they're real toilets," he said as he opened a wooden fence in his backyard revealing two outdoor toilets once used by the construction workers who renovated his home.

He not only offered a place for revelers to "go," he and his fiancee gave them coffee, water and even a place to recycle their cans.

If revelers missed the trash can, they picked it up.

"Waiting here and whining and complaining, it's a lot easier to get up and do it ourselves and maybe inspire others to do the same," he said.

Laura Kadechka, 10 Connects

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