ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 26, 2014, St. Petersburg Police News Release) - St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman escorts world-class Indycar series drivers, floats, marching bands, and beauty queens as the 2014 Firestone Grand Prix illuminated night parade twinkles along the waterfront on Thursday, March 27. at 6 p.m., participants in the Harvey's 5k and one-mile race get the crowd fired up with a trek along the parade route before the streets light up at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night's events are part of the city's 10th anniversary celebration of grand prix racing March 28-30 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which also serves as the Verizon Indycar series season opener.

The fun begins with the Harvey's 5k and one-mile run at 6:10 p.m. from Fourth Ave. NE and Beach Dr.  The route proceeds along beach dr. to first Ave. N., south on Second St. N., and west on Central Ave. to Fourth Ave. N. before reversing direction to head east on Central Ave., re-tracing the route back to North Straub Park and the finish line. Proceeds from the event benefit art and music programs in Pinellas county schools.

At 7:30 p.m., units in the firestone grand prix illuminated night parade step off from central avenue and 5th street, travel east on central avenue, then head north on 2nd street, east on 1st Ave North, and north on beach drive to 5th Avenue North before proceeding east on Seventh Ave. N. to North Shore Dr. for dispersal.

Several downtown streets will be closed and parking restrictions will be in place to accommodate Thursday evening's events. Motorists are encouraged to pre-plan routes to avoid congestion and to exercise caution due to large numbers of pedestrians in the downtown area. Spectator seating for both the Harvey's 5k and illuminated night parade, which are free admission, is first-come, first-served.

At 4:30 p.m., streets affected by Thursday night's events will close to traffic, reopening following the conclusion of the parade, or approximately 10  p.m. Beach Dr. will close to traffic at 6 p.m., or earlier as determined by traffic officials.

At 6 p.m., or when Beach Dr. closes to traffic, officers will begin re-routing Fourth Ave. N. traffic north on Bay Street to Fifth Ave. NE, where a cone line will create two-way traffic from Bay to Beach Dr. access to the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel and Vinoy Place Condos will be available until the start of the Harvey's 5k at 6:30 p.m., unless Beach Dr. closes earlier than expected. Once the run starts, Fifth Ave. NE will close for approximately five minutes to allow the field to pass, then re-open using the earlier traffic pattern. Hotel access from Seventh Ave. NE will remain open throughout the evening until about 7:45 p.m., when parade units begin dispersal. Then that portion of Seventh Ave. N. will remain closed until approximately 9:30 p.m. hotel guests and residents of the Vinoy Place Condos are encouraged to plan arrivals and departures to coincide around the planned street closures.

Owners of vehicles with residential parking permits should find alternate parking locations Thursday evening to avoid receiving a parking citation or be subject to towing. Residential parking permits do not exempt permit-holders from parking in restricted areas during special events. Uniformed officers will be available during the afternoon to assist with any traffic and parking issues.

Suggested spectator parking for Thursday night's events is available at the Midcore/Sundial garage (117 Second St. N.) or the south core garage, (100 first Ave. S.). Normal evening parking rates apply.

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