Plant Park - Tampa
Well the RNC Convention is rapidly approaching and today is last date for applying for a permit here in Tampa to hold any demonstration of more than 50 people.
Last week Planned Parenthood applied to hold a four hour demonstration in Plant Park on the afternoon of August 29th. Plant Park is a prime location next to the University of Tampa.
That park, however, is controlled by the university, which has plans of its own during the convention, so officials say Planned Parenthood will have to look for another park.
Today is the application deadline for public gathering permits for groups of 50 or more people in city parks during the convention. Groups of 49 or fewer do not require a permit.
If there is more than one application for the same park on the same day, locations will be assigned in a lottery scheduled for June 15.
After that, parks will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
The city has a dozen parks available for events during the convention. They range in size from the Herman C. Massey and Washington Street parks, each smaller than half an acre, to Macfarlane Park (30 acres), Picnic Island Park (96 acres) and Al Lopez Park (132 acres). Some are close to the RNC while others are so far away you might as well stay home.
Officials are holding Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park for spontaneously organized events. You can bet your booty that security at the courthouse park will be overwhelming, with plenty of cameras watching every move in the park.
The RNC park event permits will be nonexclusive, meaning that members of the public will be allowed to come to the park during a permitted rally or demonstration as long as they don't disrupt the event.
City Attorney James Shimberg Jr. said the public will not have the same access to parks, such as Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, during private events held by the RNC. Under the terms of its contract with the city, the convention has first dibs on Curtis Hixon and several other downtown parks for social events during the convention.
The leading edge of Hurricane Charlie over Punta Gorda, after making a last minute turn away from Tampa Bay in August 2004. The storm did billions in damage.
Meanwhile preparations continue in the event of bad weather - late August is smack in the middle of the height of the hurricane season.
August is the rainiest month here in Tampa, with an average of 7.7 inches. The record for the month is 18.6 inches with 4.65 inches falling in one day.
Tampa is also the lightning capital of the world with an average of 16 strikes per square kilometer in downtown Tampa each year. Ten people have been killed by lightning in Tampa during the rainy season since 2000 and 146 people injured.
Weather tips for visitors?
Buy a cheap poncho. Umbrellas will not be permitted inside the RNC venue and metal tipped umbrellas are prohibited in the "event zone".
Most deluges last about 10 or fifteen minutes. If you can wait it out, do so.
How far away is the storm? Watch for lightning. Count the seconds till you hear the thunder then divide by 5.
Lightning can strike on a sunny day. Watch for anvil shaped clouds.
Get a waterproof messenger bag to carry a change of shirt and shoes
The Times Forum, home of the RNC with Tampa Bay in the background.
The RNC venue is the St. Pete Times Forum, which is at the heart of the downtown and located within sight of Tampa Bay. It is in a primary evacuation zone in the event of a potential hurricane.
Keep aware of the weather. In the event a hurricane should come up Tampa Bay, downtown including the RNC venue will be underwater. Know where you have to go in the event of an evacuation.
Be aware that there will be numerous concealed weapons in the crowd - the only place they will not be allowed will be inside the convention hall. Anyone, and I mean anyone, with a concealed weapons permit will be permitted to carry outside the convention hall. Remember Florida has a no retreat law and a reciprocal weapon's permit law with numerous other states - your concealed weapon permit in Kansas is good here.
Keep Florida green. Bring money.
And be careful out there.