Gasparilla invasion causes headaches for business and residents

Gasparilla

TAMPA (WFLA) – Torrie Johnson left her South Tampa home early in the morning for a workout. She came back home and the next time she walked out to her car, there were two warnings on her windshield from the Tampa Police Department, telling her she’d parked in a no-parking zone set up for Gasparilla.

“I don’t know where to go now. I’m about to leave and when I come back, where do I go?” Johnson asked when she saw the notices.

In 2019, the Tampa Police Department handed out more than 600 parking warnings for Gasparilla and wrote 136 citations for people who ignored the warnings.

Torie Johnson says she’ll have to find another place to park for the weekend.

“We don’t have a parking garage, so I guess it’s go find parking and pay to come home,” said Johnson.

Jennie Fenley obtained a parking permit so she can work at a Hyde Park Daycare. Still, she came out Friday to find a parking warning on her car.

“They ticket and tow if you do not have a parking pass. Like now, I just got a warning on my car, which luckily it was just a warning, but I have been ticketed before,” said Fenley.

It’s estimated nearly a half-million spectators will invade South Tampa for the Gasparilla parade. The event has become the third-largest parade in the United States.

Gasparilla attracts thousands of visitors to Tampa every year, hotels are booked, bars and restaurants are packed, but for some South Tampa businesses, it’s not worth the effort to stay open on Saturday.

Rooster’s Men’s Grooming on Howard Avenue, say they plan to close ahead of the big day.

“It does affect us. We actually close down the shop because there is no way for customers to come in and out,” said manager Jose Vasquez.

He plans to open on Sunday to take care of his customers, at least the ones who survive the parade.

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