On Sunday August 26th, the city of Tampa Bay pulled out all the stops to welcome the delegates of Wyoming and the entire Republican National Convention to the area. After concerns of tropical storm Issac had been ,andthe worst of the weather expected after the welcoming ceremonies, the decision was made to throw open the doors at Tropicana Field and continue with the welcoming party.This was an opportunity for the Tampa area and its attractions to show of their best to the visitors from around the country.

Because of the threats received and the large press contingent covering the event,security was at an all time high. Bridges were monitored, the entire routes to and from the field had a noticable security presence and allwere briefed ofthe possibilities on the way to the welcoming event.

Upon arrival, it was a quick trip thru scanners and a full body wand check before entrance to Tropicana Field. Those welcoming could not have been nicer.Most were dressed in some variation of pirate clothing and were very helpful in directing newcomers to the proper areas.

After entering Tropicana Stadium we were greeted by all types of animals from the Tampa Zoo and area rescues. We saw three toed sloths, pink and white flamingoes and  even an American Bald Eagle before even making it to the field.

Once on the filed we were entertained by performers on three stages, including performers from Busch Gardens, American Idol and the Headliner of the evening country singing artist Rodney Atkins.

The food was from menus that featured everyday Florida fare and highlighted by paella, cuban sandwiches, lobster mac and cheese, grouper sandwiches, ceviche, pit roasted pork and more. Bacardi Distillers was also on hand celebrating their 150th Anniversary with concoctions that resulted in red, white and blue drinksthat were enjoyed by many.

The evening was capped off by a bus back to the hotel with an accompanying SWAT member from a neighboring city who was very forthcoming in the security challenges and very reassuring in the way this state and community are handling the safety of its visitors.

As Monday's convention work was cancelled because of the storm, it allowed us the freedom to spend some time sightseeing in the area and we did with a trip to a favorite community of ours called Tarpon Springs. With a large contigent of greeks and those of greek heritage, the community is filled with traditional greek restaurants, bakeries,shoppes and more. It was all topped off with a visit to Dunedin and an ice cream shop called Strachans that also does a homemade carrot cake that was well worth the trip.

Today is the first day of business and more from the convention will follow this week.