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Gasparilla attracts large crowds, new security cameras | News

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Gasparilla attracts large crowds, new security cameras
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TAMPA, Florida -- The Thieves of San Lorenzo stood third in line, eager to shower the Gasparilla crowd with beads and show off their floats. 

That's right. Floats, plural. So many women wanted to be a part of the festivities that the krewe, dedicated to supporting causes like The Spring and Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, had to build two floats to fit them.

"We actually make the floats ourselves," TSL President Nancy Fisher said. "We've had a couple vendors help us, but everything is mostly done from scratch."

With elaborate touches like a volcano on one of the floats, they both took about ten months to create. And like many of the krewes that sail upon the Gasparilla parade route, TSL is as devoted to safety as it is to having a good time.

"We have tons of security. We want to be safe. I want to make sure all the girls have a good time, the crowd stays back, and we want to throw the City of Tampa a lot of beads," Fisher said.

The Tampa Police Department used cameras from last year's Republican National Convention to oversee safety during Gasparilla.

"It gives us a good bird's eye view of the whole event. We can see what's going on. We can identify hotspots," said TPD Captain Michael Baumaister.

Surveillance cameras placed at prominent parade intersections were portable and meant to monitor crowds that officers on the ground might not otherwise be able to see.

According to Capt. Baumaister, one of the cameras spotted a briefcase left on the sidewalk at Bayshore and Bay-to-Bay Blvd. Officers were able to get to the scene and quickly find the owner. Had the briefcase been noticed later, he said, a bomb alert may have been necessary, possibly delaying events.

"We were just reactive to everything," he said. "Now we're a little more proactive because we can see what's happening while it's happening or prior."

TPD said the cameras spotted no major incidents during the parade.

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