Security heightened at this year's Gasparilla festivities - WFLA News Channel 8

Security heightened at this year's Gasparilla festivities

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Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor discusses Gasparilla security Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor discusses Gasparilla security
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Security is top of mind for law enforcement officials ahead of the Gasparilla festivities that begin Saturday.

The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, and larger Piratefest next weekend, will attract thousands of people to Tampa.  Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor wants to make sure both events go off without any problems.

"We have no information or intelligence of any threats or any issues that may mar the parade," Castor said.

Nevertheless, there will be hundreds of officers on the street this year, including specially-trained units.  This is the first time the event has been held since the Boston Marathon bombing in April.

“About forty officers in these particular teams that will be moving around looking for suspicious behavior and addressing any complaints that come up from the community,” said Castor.

There will also be more cameras keeping an eye on the crowd. 

Related content:  Your guide to Gasparilla!

Ye Mystic Krewe Captain Jim Von Thron welcomes the additional security.

"We are all aware of packages and things,” Von Thron said.  “It is just a continuation of what is going on in the world … that we have to be aware of these kinds of things and we have to continue doing that.”

Related content:  Meet the Krewes of Gasparilla

For the second year in a row, there is also an educational component to the Gasparilla festivities.  Hillsborough County schools are telling teens planning to attend the event to be respectful and behave themselves.

"We want students to know there are consequences for your behavior...so they can keep that in their minds as they are making decisions about what they are doing,” said Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia.  “They can have a great time at Gasparilla and we want that, but we also want them to do it responsibly."

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