Tampa police prep for busy New Year's weekend, football, hockey games

In two nights, we'll be getting ready to bid farewell to 2022 and welcome in a new year making it an extra-busy weekend around Tampa

Police are preparing to keep crowds safe whether they're here to celebrate at midnight or cheer on their team. They're encouraging everyone to prepare their plans ahead of time. Just because the ball drops at midnight Sunday, it isn't an excuse to drop the ball, yourself.

Tampa police say it every year because they have to - if you're toasting at midnight, before or after, leave the driving to someone else.

"Last year, we had nine arrests total for DUI," said Lt. Brian Felts with Tampa Police Department. "We would like to shoot for a goal of zero arrests for DUI this year. We ask that our citizens have a plan in place before they go out. Plan for a ride-share, plan for an exit, plan for a designated driver before festivities begin."

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Police will have their hands full this weekend. On New Year's Eve, there's a Lightning game, the ReliaQuest Bowl parade and pep rally, and of course, the regular New Year's Eve events. Sunday's the Bucs game. Monday is the Bowl game.

"In Ybor City, we're upwards of four times our normal staffing," Felts said, "and after parade events, we'll be redeploying officers into the downtown footprint for all the fireworks and festivities down here."

No matter where you celebrate, whether at Armature Works, American Social, the Straz, or home, officials urge you to leave the fireworks shows to the pros.

"New Year's tends to bring out a lot of excitement and joy," stated Jimmy Patronis, Florida's Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal. "But it brings out a lot of unnecessary trips to the emergency room."

In fact, just don't shoot anything in the air. 

"Celebratory gunfire is both dangerous and illegal," Felts said.

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What goes up must come down. Those bullets have been known to seriously hurt or kill innocent people on the ground.

Plan to make good decisions now so you can have good times later because a hospital or a jail is no place to start a new year.

"See something, say something, allow us to help you to have the best event possible and the best weekend possible," Felts shared.

If you are planning to celebrate the New Year in downtown Tampa, TPD suggests you download its app. You can send anonymous tips, share photos or videos, get public safety alerts, and through a partnership with Uber and Lyft, they'll help you find rideshare pickup areas so you can get home safely.