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Fla. first responders kept busy during Gasparilla Parade

Tampa Fire Rescue responded to 156 medical calls during the pirate parade

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Hundreds of pirates cheer and toss beads aboard the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship before the start of the Gasparilla Invasion Parade on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Tampa.

Luis Santana/Tampa Bay Times via AP

Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA, Fla. — The annual Gasparilla Parade that brought more than 300,000 revelers to Bayshore Boulevard was busy for Tampa Fire Rescue, but slow for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies arrested just one person, who was boating under the influence, and ejected two from the festivities, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m thankful for our deputies that worked out in the heat today to ensure that everyone who attended the parade was able to do so safely,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “Your Sheriff’s Office prepared for our annual pirate invasion for months, so to see it go off so smoothly is something teamHCSO should be proud of.”

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A spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department said their officers arrested 18. Of those, two were for driving under the influence and eight were for boating under the influence.

“I want to thank all of the Tampa Police officers who worked to keep paradegoers safe,” Chief Lee Bercaw said in a statement. “This event is truly a team effort. I would like to also thank the many law enforcement agencies from around Tampa Bay that assisted in keeping Gasparilla safe for everyone.”

Fire Rescue said their staff responded to 156 medical calls. Of those, 36 required transport by ambulance to an area medical facility for additional evaluation.

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One call was to help a 78-year-old man who fell from a parade float at around 4:20 p.m. at the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and South Boulevard, according to Fire Rescue. Medical response paused the parade for approximately 25 minutes. The man was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.

“I am grateful for all of our first responders including our dispatchers that worked this demanding event,” Fire Chief Barbara Tripp said in a statement. “I am also thankful to our partner agencies, Tampa General Hospital, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, TransCare, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and the American Red Cross for their assistance. In the midst of the Florida heat with hundreds of thousands of revelers attending today’s parade, their unwavering dedication and teamwork shined in our community.”

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