TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Postgame celebrations brought thousands of fans to Downtown Tampa, but the show of support eventually turned to chaos.
Fans tore down street signs near the River Walk. Crowds overflowed the streets near Curtis Hixon Park. Some jumped on cars that were trying to make it through downtown. Others were seen climbing light posts.
Police in SWAT gear had to step in to control the crowd. They appeared to have been using tear gas and pepper spray on some people who refused to leave.
Many people celebrated the Bucs’ Super Bowl win along South Howard Avenue and in Ybor City Sunday night. While there were some people wearing masks, many people were not.
“Tampa definitely showed up for the Super Bowl. I think a lot of what’s gone on down here and on the River Walk was not socially distanced but the NFL at their locations definitely took it seriously,” one fan told 8 On Your Side.
Mayor Jane Castor signed an executive order a couple weeks ago requiring people wear face coverings in event zones and entertainment districts, even while they’re outdoors.
The “Event Zones” impacted by Executive Order 2021-07 include areas of Downtown Tampa and the area surrounding Raymond James Stadium.
“Entertainment Districts” include the Ybor City Historic District, the South Howard Commercial Overlay District, the Central Business District, and the Channel District, as those areas are defined in City of Tampa Code Chapter 27.
“As I’ve told everybody we all know how to avoid COVID-19 and that’s by simply wearing a mask,” Castor said. “I’ve been yelling for the Bucs all night long, you can do it with a mask on.”
The order went into effect on Jan. 28 and stay in effect until Feb. 13, unless otherwise modified, repealed or earlier terminated.
Executive Order 2020-42, which was adopted on Aug. 19, 202, also remains in effect. It requires the use of face coverings at most indoor locations in Tampa.
WFLA’s Olivia Steen was on Howard Avenue Sunday night and saw heavy smoke. A few people in the crowd reported seeing tear gas deployed, but those reports have not been confirmed.
Employees at MacDinton’s spent the morning sweeping up trash along South Howard Avenue.
“We do this all the time after big events and I think many people don’t realize that,” Bartender Matt Gray said. “We’re very good about cleaning up the streets and the surrounding areas, especially after big events.”