TAMPA — Monica Varner has held her share of parties at Curtis Hixon Park. She has produced such alcohol-fueled events there as Oktoberfest, the Margarita Fest and Spring Beer Fling— more than a dozen events in all.
But even Varner was shocked by the size of the crowd at Wednesday night’s International Indian Film Academy Stomp, the free and open to the public celebration of Indian culture that was the official kickoff party for the four days of events culminating in the 15th annual Bollywood Oscars at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Varner said. “And I definitely would never have guessed over 8,000 people would have shown up.”
That is the official count from the Tampa fire marshal’s office, as relayed to both Varner and Santiago Corrada, CEO and president of tourism promoter Visit Tampa Bay.
The fire marshal’s office could not be reached immediately today. Because it was not a ticketed event, only an estimate can be made.
Organizers hoped for 3,000.
Santiago Corrada, CEO and president of tourism promoter Visit Tampa Bay, said when he stood on stage during the show and looked into the sea of people it looked more like a crowd of 10,000.
“I can’t say that was the official number but it’s what I think it was,” he said. “I think that 8,000 plus is a plus 2,000.”
Ali Glisson, public affairs director for the City of Tampa, said the park’s capacity is 7,500.
Corrada added that more important than the size of the crowd was that it remained a festive atmosphere.
“Bollywood got off to a great start,” said Andrea Davis, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department. “There were no arrests.”
“It was an amazing start to what will be a great weekend,” said Corrada. “IIFA has said all along to trust in their brand and the excitement it brings and they proved with IIFA Stomp there were right.”