With a bowl game in every major Florida city, it’s not unusual for Floridians to have a New Year’s bowl game tradition. In Tampa, the Outback bowl comes with a week’s worth of events. The most popular are Beach Day in Clearwater and the New Year’s eve parade in Ybor City. If you love marching bands, these two events are like a dream come true.
Beach Day is like a tailgate, pep rally, and halftime show all rolled up in one and thrown in the sand. It’s also a very clever way of showing sports fans the best of what the Tampa Bay area has to offer. Visiting the beach is a must for anyone visiting the area, regardless of their reason for visiting. Flying into Tampa and skipping a day excursion to Clearwater Beach is like flying to Italy and not eating any pasta.
Locals and visiting sports fans alike flock to Clearwater Beach on Beach Day to enjoy the sun and to see their team’s marching band perform in the sand. The bands each performed for about 15 minutes this year for a total 30 minute long marching band show. There is something inherently exciting about seeing marching bands perform outside of a football stadium that is hard to describe. I’m glad I got to see the University of Florida and University of Iowa marching bands perform on Clearwater Beach this year.
The following day, the bands join up with high school marching bands and Tampa krewes to parade down 7th Avenue in Ybor City, the Tampa Bay area’s most hopping nightspot. The hour-long parade is definitely worth the trip to Ybor, and it places you in the middle of a very lively place to celebrate New Year’s eve.
Nothing says “Happy New Year!” like hearing the University of Florida marching band play Auld Lang Syne intermingled with their fight song. Marching bands from all over the country gave us their best; they played, they danced, and they twirled their batons in the street with reckless abandon. It was a fantastic, and free, way to ring in the New Year.