Beads are just a bonus for Outback Bowl fans

- The New Year's Eve party started early for Outback Bowl fans who got revved up for the big game while experiencing the way Tampa puts on a parade -- with plenty of beads, of course.

Marching down 7th Avenue were about 15 high school bands from around the country, the two Outback Bowl college marching bands, and Tampa's own pirate krewes.

For some families, the march down 7th is a long-standing tradition. "We drove all the way down from Ohio," said Tom Indoe of Marion, Ohio. "My great grandson's playing in the Marion Harding band. This'll be my fifth one of my grandkids that has been playing at the Outback Bowl."

Beyond the football field, the parade is a chance for fans to get a taste of Tampa, snag a few beads, and discover reasons to come back.

"This was thrown to me," said Mississippi State fan Carson Mims, showing off his bead. "I skyed some dude for this one. We're excited to be here and we hope we win."

"Time in Tampa is wonderful," said Iowa fan Phyllis Opperman. "When you compare it to snow back home, it's nice here."

"The venue here is amazing, the people have been great, they've treated us very well," said Mississippi State fan Josh Yeager. 

So, as the rest of the city counts down to midnight, these Outback Bowl fans eagerly count down to kickoff, trading friendly jabs all the way into the New Year.

"They can't handle the cowbells and they sure as hell can't handle us," Yeager said.

"Hawks Nation is in town," said Iowa fan Joe Robinson. "Let it be known, the Hawks don't play 'cause we travel good and the weather's great."

The parade wrapped up with a pep rally for both teams. The big game kicks off at noon at Raymond James Stadium. 

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