The RNC Welcome Event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg went on as planned Sunday night.
“We throw a good party. We know how to do that," said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster. "We’ve battened down the hatches. Our community is safe tonight. We don’t necessarily have to worry about Isaac. (The storm) is moving further west, tomorrow is going to be a bad day weather-wise but it’ll be a storm, we’ll deal with it. Tonight- it’s going to be a good night."
Foster said the RNC gives the area a "captive audience."
"(The RNC) is all about promoting Tampa Bay, St Pete, Clearwater, Tampa and all the communities in between," Foster said. "We want to promote the heck out of our region because want them to come back."
Outside the Trop, hundreds of protestors gathered in St. Petersburg and marched to the site of the RNC kick-off party chanting "We are the 99 percent."
Mayor Foster and Chief of Police Charles "Chuck" Harmon reported that the RNC welcome event was a huge success for the city and law enforcement officials.
"From my perspective, things could not have been more successful," said Chief Harmon in a release. "Police experienced only positive interactions with the visiting protestors and we are pleased to report that as of the conclusion of the party only one traffic related arrest had been made. I'd like to thank all of our partner agencies for helping to make this event such a success."
"We are also grateful to the city residents who were affected by this event," said Mayor Foster in a release. "Approximately 15,000 delegates and media, many who
have never been to the Tampa Bay area, got to enjoy a fantastic welcome party in St. Petersburg tonight. The inconveniences our residents experienced with the parking restrictions, road closures and detours put in place for the event will hopefully pay dividends for years to come, as the convention guests return to our area again and again."
More than 1,800 law enforcement officers from federal, state and primarily-local agencies over the last 36 hours helped to secure Tropicana Field, implement road closures and parking restrictions, facilitate traffic flow and allow for peaceful demonstrations by protestors.
At the same time, the level of police service to the St. Petersburg community was enhanced with additional officers available for police calls for service to ensure residents were not adversely impacted by the influx of traffic and visitors.
The first day of the convention was effectively cancelled ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac, but the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee CEO and President Ken decided the weather wouldn’t pose a threat to the event.