NHL All-Star fans, Gasparilla-goers pack downtown Tampa

- Gasparilla may be Tampa’s biggest party, but hockey fans are also taking over downtown for the National Hockey League All-Star Game.  

There are events being held all weekend and the Pregame Fan Festival kicked everything off Friday night.

It was five hours of free fun. Fans of all ages packed into the festival to celebrate all things hockey.

“I’m a big hockey fan, my favorite position is goalie, I like playing that,” said 10-year-old Ethan Sabec. “My favorite team is the Blue Jackets.”

Ethan scored when he took a shot, but not everyone testing their skills were as successful.

“There’s a whole bunch of hockey games where you get to shoot the puck and try to score,” 8-year-old Tyler Sabec said. 

You can climb into the seat of a Zamboni, or take a turn guarding the net while looking like a pro.

“This is fantastic,” said Dan Ferry. “Tampa has been a growing hockey town for years and it’s great to see everything that happens in the NHL happening here.”

Folks were excited to snag autographs from their favorite players and for the chance to get up-close with the Stanley Cup.

Fans from all over descending on Tampa for a whole weekend of NHL events.

“A couple reasons, you can’t keep Canadians away from hockey games and nice weather,” Gerry Serretore from Toronto, Canada said. “We’ve had a terrible winter so far, so it’s nice to be outside and enjoying the weather.”

The fan festival will be open Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and again on Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m.

The All-Star skills competition is Saturday at 7 p.m., and then the puck drops for the All-Star game at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

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