Police warn of zero-tolerance policy for illegal Gasparilla drinking
TAMPA â€” The forecast of clear skies and highs in the upper 60s is expected to lure thousands more revelers to Gasparilla this year than the soggy, windy conditions last year, testing streets and city servicesâ€” especially police.
For the second straight year, police will have a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and drunken behavior.
“We want everyone to leave with a neck full of beads, not in handcuffs,” Tampa police Chief Jane Castor said.
The entire force will be working, with hundreds of officers staged along the route.
Adults can drink alcohol from beer vendors or their own supplies in a wet zone alongside the route and in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. (Text the word “pirate” to 333222 with a smart phone and a map of the legal drinking zone will appear.)
Drink anywhere else except there or private property and adults will be handed citations on the spot, no questions asked.
Police, sponsors and organizers have made presentations at every Hillsborough County middle and high school and area colleges, warning students.
Underage drinkers will be held at a holding facility until their parents or guardians show up.
“We don’t want you to be drinking,” Mayor Pam Iorio said. “Go and just have a good time without the alcohol if you’re underage.”
Increased enforcement began last year after a steady stream of neighborhood complaints about crude behavior. Police made 415 arrests in 2010, compared with 127 in 2009.