Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tampa, Gasparilla, etc: Part IV

More on life in Tampa, and Gasparilla, from 2007 Tampa Bay Times Social Section. You can see why Kelley had concerns about intrusion:

For 364 days of the year, this is one of the best places in Tampa to live. On the 365th day, homeowners Jill and Scott Kelley hire security guards. Three of them, to be exact. It's not that the Kelleys have anything against Gasparilla. They say they're just protecting their home and three daughters, ages 4, 2 and 1.

"It's the unexpected that makes me nervous - what could happen next?" said Jill Kelley, 31. "Is there going to be a fight or something?"

Her fears aren't without merit. Last year, a drunken man tried to charge their house. He made it 15 feet across the lawn before the security guards tackled him. The Kelleys also caught a woman urinating in their backyard.

Jill Kelley said her neighbors warned her about Gasparilla when she and her husband, a surgeon at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, moved in three years ago. Some neighbors put up fences, but she said that wasn't for her.

"People just push them down," she said. "Besides, there's no reason to barricade yourself."

So she pays $400 per guard to patrol the lawn from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then she stays inside the house and tries not to look out.

"Ignorance is bliss," Jill Kelley said, laughing. "I usually don't say that, but for one day of the year, it's true. I don't want to know what's going on out there."

When a young woman in a black tank top sat down on the concrete ledge surrounding the Kelleys' yard, guard Sherry Raposo was there to firmly instruct her to move along.

This offended the woman's boyfriend. "Ooohhh," he said, smirking. "I guess these people get paid a lot of money to make sure you don't sit there."

Raposo, 29, doesn't react. It's best not to argue with people in the crowd, she said. "Right now, most of them are fairly cordial. But they'll get more belligerent as the day goes on," she said. "I'm just happy as long as no one throws a bottle at me."

On the other side of the lawn, Joseph Conover, another guard, fended off drunken comments.

"They'll say things like, 'Taser me' or 'Show me your gun,' " said Conover, 29. "Mostly they say, 'Who the hell are you guys?' "