You may have heard cheers coming early from Ybor City on Monday evening. It wasn't for the New Year. It was for a football game.
Michigan and South Carolina fans cheered on the Outback Bowl Parade, less than 24 hours before their teams hit the gridiron.
"We are from Chelsea. It's a little town outside of Ann Arbor about five miles," said Marshall Carr.
This parade is the first place rival fans face off before the ball game.
"Meeting a lot of people and talking to a lot of the enemy and best friends," Carr said.
"We just met some new friends from North Carolina," said Linda Giffith.
They came from the cool Carolinas and wintery Michigan.
"There are more Michigan alum than any other country, and wherever I go, there will be somebody across the street yelling ‘Go Blue,'" said Kevin Silvia.
While they all say they've enjoyed Tampa shopping, restaurants and attractions, make no mistake why they really came.
"I'm here to support my Gamecocks," Giffith said.
The parade has become an annual tradition in Tampa. It's one of the largest the city offers, made mostly of marching bands from across the country.
Local street vendors know this as they sell gear. Others from Tampa, like a Boy Scout troop, came for the experience. They marched in front of thousands, representing their home town.
"You've got to walk, and you've got to start all the way at the parade and end it, but once you get down there it's going to be fun," said Malachias Harris.
Since the game is on a Tuesday, a lot of fans have been in the Bay area since Saturday and plan to stay through Wednesday.
That makes the Outback Bowl the last economic boost of 2012 – and the first of 2013.
Outback Bowl will be showcase for quarterbacks: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/20476599/2012/12/31/outback-bowl-will-be-showcase-for-quarterbacks
Players to watch, key factors:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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