As they have in years past, two of Bayshore Boulevard's most famous neighbors — Jill Kelley and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon -— will once again host a Gasparilla party Saturday to benefit disabled veterans.
- Maddon, Kelley invite veterans to watch the parade from front lawns
- Lack of permits for lift vans to drop off disabled vets at party a problem
- Organizers said no more permits available to give
"These brave men have given their eyesight, their legs, sometimes both for our freedom," Kelley said. "It's just a token of our appreciation to give them the ability to come to this party and be part of Gasparilla."
Pictures from past years show the veterans on Kelley's lawn, enjoying a front-row seat to the pirate parade. Many of the veterans have prosthetics and are in wheelchairs.
(Photo by Jill Kelley)
The guests in previous years have been dropped off by special lift vans that park next to the house. This year, however, Kelley said Gasparilla's coordinators denied the special permits necessary to get those vans close to the house.
"I think (the veterans) should get parking," Kelley said. "They should get access to Gasparilla. I'll provide everything else. It's something so simple. Just give them access."
A representative of EventFest said it would like to give special parking permits for the disabled veterans, but they don't have more to give. Gasparilla vendors and sponsors take up the entire street next to Kelley's and Maddon's homes.
The representative went on to say they have a great relationship with local military members and that they take part in several events with MacDill Air Force Base.
Maddon, however, also hopes arrangements can be made so the disabled men and women don't have to be dropped off far down the parade route.
"It's not just because the party is at my house or at Jill's," Maddon said. "Wherever these folks go, they need to be taken care of in a first-class manner and taken care of first.”