Outback Bowl teams and fans bound for Tampa Bay area
Local band De Lei'ed Parrots to perform during team beach day event.
TAMPA — Pep rallies, private parties, a bowling night, parade, fireworks and a premier college football game will close out the old and ring in the new year in the Tampa Bay area.
Last week, Outback Bowl officials announced that the Louisiana State University Tigers and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes will square off in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day in Tampa.
The Tigers are 9-3 and ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls, while the Hawkeyes are 8-4. It will be only the second time those teams have played in 120 seasons of their football history, and the first time in the past 25 years LSU has played in the Outback Bowl.
The Jan. 1 game at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, offers a pregame show at 12:25 p.m. featuring high school and the LSU and Iowa college bands. Kickoff is scheduled for 1.
The halftime show, sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero, will feature more than 3,500 performers. The LSU and Iowa bands will perform, followed by high school bands from around the country and an all-star dance group.
Bowl festivities already have started in the area. More than 700 Outback Bowl supporters converged on Tampa with a welcome dinner for the two head coaches on Dec. 12 at the Club Lounge of Raymond James Stadium.
From now until game day, a number of private events will be held in Tampa, including the teams' welcome dinner on Dec. 26 at A La Carte Event Pavilion; an outing for both teams and fans on Dec. 27 to Busch Gardens; a luncheon for coaching staff wives on Dec. 28 hosted by Roy's Hawaiian Cuisine Restaurant; a players visit with young patients at Tampa General Hospital on Dec. 28; and team nights out to Splitsville at Channelside in Tampa on Dec. 28 and to a Tampa Bay Lightning game on Dec. 29.
In Pinellas County, the annual Clearwater Beach Day team pep rally is Dec. 30. The football teams, marching bands and cheerleaders will host a pep rally from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the Hilton Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60.
The pep rally will also feature the local tropical rock band De Lei'ed Parrots, who have performed for the beach day event for eight of the past nine years.
The rally is sponsored by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of Clearwater, Hilton Clearwater Beach, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, Clearwater Gas System, Allegiant Air, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, 95.7 the Beat (WBTP FM) and 93.3FLZ FM Radio.
On Dec. 31, Outback Bowl organizers will team up with the Tampa General Hospital for the New Year's Eve Parade and pep rally in Ybor City. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs along Seventh Avenue.
The "Light Up Tampa Bay" celebration will round out the evening with live entertainment and a midnight fireworks show and ball drop along the downtown Tampa waterfront.
To purchase Outback Bowl game tickets, call Ticketmaster at (813) 287-8844 or 1-800-745-3000; go online to www.ticketmaster.com; or visit any Ticketmaster outlet in the state.
For more information about the game and associated events, go to www.outbackbowl.com.