The Blue Angels were incredible. The traffic was a nightmare. Those are the 2 things you always hear Monday morning after AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base.
On both days, they had to close the entry gates because the parking lots were at capacity. People are complaining this morning on the Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page about it as if there was anything the cops could have done. MacDill isn’t built to be a stadium for public events. It’s a military base. Those who took the advice to get to MacDill super early got a spot. But they had to sit in hours of traffic. Not me. I left Pinellas at 11am and was inside walking around AirFest by noon. How? Did I use some special Geno from Q105 connections? Nope. I’m not that important. I took tip #6 I gave you last week.
I called my article last week “10 Pro Tips If You’re Going to AirFest.” That was a stretch because I’d never been to AirFest. But I pooled together advice from listeners. Tip #6 was the complete game changer… ride a bike into AirFest. There were dozens of parking spots at a playground/dog park less than a mile from the base. Parked the car and hopped on a bicycle and just rode by all that traffic. Bike parking was about 50 feet away from the entrance. I not only got to skip the hours of bumper to bumper traffic getting on base to get a parking spot, I also got to avoid the long walk from parking to the gate.
So what about AFTER AirFest? The bike ride back to the playground where I parked took about 15 minutes. I again got to just fly by all the cars trying to exit. Once we got to the car and got the bikes loaded up, it took about 30 minutes to get from our parking spot to the Gandy Bridge. But from the last Blue Angels stunt to the time I walked in the door at my place, it was about an hour and 15 minutes.
The weekend wasn’t a complete success. I tried biking in on Saturday around 2pm, but was held up at the entry gate because I was too late and entered via the wrong gate. Lots were full by 1:45pm and everyone after that was turned away. Rookie mistake. We biked in along Bayshore. I didn’t realize that entrance was specifically for on base residents and workers. So we ended up watching from a little field next to the entrance. Little did I know, we could have probably still gotten in had we used one of the other entrances. Lesson learned for day 2 Sunday. Got to the area earlier and made sure to use a different entrance. It couldn’t have gone better.