Tonight’s illuminated night parade kicks-off Grand Prix weekend

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Floats, IZOD IndyCar drivers, marching bands, the Budweiser Clydesdales and Petey, St. Petersburg’s First Puppy and parade Grand Marshal, help kick off the celebration surrounding the World’s Fastest Spring Break party tonight when the Honda Grand Prix Illuminated Night Parade steps off from Central Ave. and Fifth St. N. at 7:30 p.m.  Race fans, visitors, and residents are invited to join world-class drivers on a three-day spin through the 14-turn, 1.8 mile street course, otherwise known as the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, through Sunday, March 25.

Downtown motorists should expect detours and delays tonight and Friday night, March 23, as two major race-related events signal the start of the three-day festival of speed.
BB&T and Progress Energy Honda Grand Prix Illuminated Night Parade – the procession steps off from Central Ave. and Fifth Sts. at 7:30 tonight. Participants will proceed east on Central Ave., north on Second St. N., east on First Ave. N., and north on Beach Dr., before ending at Fifth Ave. N.E., where entries will disperse into the North Shore Pool parking lots via Beach Dr. and Seventh Ave. N.E.

Motorists will see road closings on Central Ave. to Second Ave. S. between Fifth to Eighth Sts. for parade assembly beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastbound traffic on First Ave. S. will be directed south on Dr. M.L. King Jr. St., then east on Third Ave. S.

Roads along the parade route will close at 7 p.m. Traffic will be restricted on Second St. from Central Ave. to First Ave. N. due to Second St. being part of the parade route. The route also prevents any westbound traffic on First Ave. N. until Fourth St. since Third St. is one-way northbound. The route will remain closed to through traffic until the parade is complete, around 9 p.m.

Honda Grand Prix 5K Run, Walk, n Wheel-a-thon – Tomorrow, traffic restrictions will be in place beginning at 6 p.m. on Bayshore Dr. N.E., when participants begin assembling for the third annual event at Vinoy Park. Participants proceed west on Fifth Ave. N.E. at approximately 7:15 p.m., then south on Bayshore Dr. to First Ave. S.E., where they enter the Honda Grand Prix track, exiting at Bayshore Dr. The field then proceeds north on Bayshore Dr., and east on Fifth Ave. N.E. before returning to Vinoy Park.

The impact to traffic is expected to be minimal, as much of the event takes place on the Honda Grand Prix track. However, motorists should be aware that delays are expected at Second Ave. N.E. and Bayshore Dr.  Traffic will be permitted to cross Bayshore when breaks in the field occur and it is safe to do so for event participants. Residents entering or leaving the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel and Condos will be accommodated via a cone line. All participants are expected to have crossed the finish line by 9 p.m.

Streets will be cleared of all vehicles for participants’ safety for both tonight’s Illuminated Night Parade and Friday’s Run, Walk n Wheel-a-thon. Signs should be posted by 9 p.m. the night before each event and meters bagged in affected areas by 3 p.m. on the day of each event. Parking spaces along the parade route will not be accessible beginning at 2 p.m. today so crews can begin clearing streets of vehicles. Residential parking permits will not exempt vehicles from being ticketed/towed.  On-street parkers should ensure their vehicles are removed from the event location to avoid receiving a citation or being towed.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.