Skip to main content

Who We Are

2023 Annual Report



In 2023, Friends of the Riverwalk achieved remarkable success through collaborative efforts with the City of Tampa and valued community partners. Our unwavering commitment to the development, activation, and promotion of the Tampa Riverwalk was made possible by the generous support of our corporate and individual members, along with the organizations sponsoring our signature events. This steadfast support empowers us to broaden our programming and make a positive impact on our community. As we eagerly anticipate the opportunities that 2024 holds, we look forward to witnessing everyone relishing the beauty of the Tampa Riverwalk together

MaryBeth Williams







⭐️Awarded by USA TODAY as one of the top Riverwalks in the Nation
⭐️Awarded by USA TODAY as one of the top 10 Best Public Holiday Lights Display
⭐️ Awarded by Fodor's Travel as one the 15 Best Riverwalks in the United States
⭐️Tampa, Florida awarded 1 of TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places 2023, mentioning the Tampa Riverwalk
⭐️ Quoted by City of Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor, "The Tampa Riverwalk (The Riverwalk) has substantially transformed the downtown waterfront into a vibrant setting, making our Hillsborough River the center of the city"



The 7th annual Tampa Riverfest, a public, two-day, free event was held on May 4-5, 2023

  • The festival spanned over half of the Riverwalk including several parks and featured family-friendly activities and events that showcased Tampa's cultural institutions, local musicians and restaurants. 
  • The festival included Taste of Riverwalk on Friday night and RiverFiesta on Saturday. 
  • There was also a full concert series of local bands on the main stage in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and a balloon glow on Friday nights. 
  • Hillsborough County Schools music students performed on the Water Works Stage on Saturday and the Pride Band headlined Saturday night. 
  • New in 2023 was a local market in Water Works Park where 30+ local vendors were able to showcase and sell their goods
  • Other activities included a wiener dog derby, a lantern parade, yoga and a paddle invasion.
  • VIP patrons accessed a private tent, private section in front of the main stage, all-inclusive drinks and food and private restrooms.
  • Thousands of residents and visors attended the event that included over 50 local vendors.
  • Estimated attendance 20,000
  • Sponsors included Armature Works, Ashley, Beck Group, Busch Gardens, Coastal Construction, Florida Ave Brewing, GTE Financial, Holidays Network Group, Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, iHeart, Life Guard Imaging, Marriott Water Street Hotel & JW Marriott, Matt Law, Pepin Distributing, Inc., Publix, Regions Bank, Solar Bear, Splitsville, Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Times, Teachers Federal Credit Union, Tito's, Ulele, Urban Kai, Valley Bank, Verizon, Verramobility, Visit Tampa Bay, Wade Trim and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners

2023 July 4th Boat Parade & Water Ski Show

The 3rd annual July 4th Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet was held on July 4, 2023

  • A free, safe opportunity for families to enjoy the 4th of July, the waterfront and the Riverwalk
  • Sparkman Wharf activations included a VIP area with food and beverage, a game zone, DJ and photo booth
  • The Tampa Bay Water Ski Team hosted a water ski show in front of the wharf prior to the boat parade
  • Several hundred boats were festively decorated and participated in the route
  • Boaters participated in a digital poker run during the parade, checking in at various waypoints and earning points for prizes from local businesses and attractions
  • A blessing station at the conclusion of the parade with Father Mike Jones, Father Zack Elliott and Father Steve Kluge from Sacred Heart Catholic Church provided each boat a blessing for a safe and fun boating season
  • The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began years ago but is still practiced in many fishing and boating communities around the world to ensure a safe and bountiful season. 
  • Fire Chief Barbara Tripp and State Attorney Suzy Lopez were the grand marshals of the parade
  • Thousands of spectators lined the Riverwalk and parks to enjoy the patriotic boat parade
  • Boats were decked out in red, white and blue and competed for the most patriotic boat trophy. The boat parade was followed by fireworks displays at Sparkman Wharf.   
  • Several vendors hosted booth on the wharf including the Ashley, Busch Gardens, Floridan Palace Hotel, Splitsville, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays & Rowdies and Teacher’s Federal Credit Union
  • Judges were pairs from the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay
  • The most patriotic boat was awarded a trophy and prizes
  • Boat Parade sponsors included Ashley, Florida Aquarium, Florida Avenue Brewing, Floridan Palace Hotel, Pirate Water Taxi, Sparkman Wharf, Splitsville, Teacher’s Federal Credit Union, UNation, Yacht StarShip and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners


The 7th Annual Riverwalk Trick or Treat, another free, family-friendly, community event was held on October 28, 2023

  • 47 treat stations from Water Works Park to MacDill Park
  • 1.6 miles of the Riverwalk was activated for the event
  • Water Works Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park were activated for the event
  • 5,000 trick-or-treat bags distributed
  • 20,000 estimated attendance
  • DJs at each park entertained the crowds
  • Food trucks located in both parks
  • Two photo stations along the trick-or-treat route
  • Movie on the Lawn featuring Hocus Pocus 2 (2022) in partnership with Tampa Theatre
  • Pumpkin Patch & Pumpkin Painting in partnership with Reeve’s Pumpkins
  • Costume Contest – 4 age groups, 3 winners in each age group
  • Pet Costume Contest – 2 groups, big & small pets
  • Costume Contest Judges were American Marketing Association students from the University of South Florida
  • Fall Market in Curtis Hixon Park in partnership with Tampa Bay Markets featuring 25 local vendors selling food and fall crafts
  • Trick or Treat sponsors included Banko Overhead Doors, Barrymore Hotel, Busch Gardens, Clear Channel, Couch Family Foundation, Diamond View Studios, Gasparilla International Film Festival, Grow Financial, Hillsborough County, iHeart Media (Mix 100.7), Kroger Delivery, Liquid Death, Prime Hydration, Tampa Bay MOR-TV, Tampa Family Health Centers and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners


Our 3rd Annual Holiday Harbour tree lighting was held on November 26, 2023 and officially kicked off the Riverwalk Holiday Spectacular

  • Mayor Castor spoke to the crowd and then hopped aboard a Pirate Water Taxi to light the 35-foot-tall LED tree that floats in the Convention Center basin
  • A DJ was onsite to emcee the event and entertain the crowds
  • Sant Claus was also on site for photos with the crowd
  • Complimentary Cookies and Milk were served to those who attended
  • Tree Lighting sponsors included Pirate Water Taxi, Tampa Convention Center, Tampa General Hospital, Yacht StarShip and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners


Our 5th year of spectacular holiday lights along the Tampa Riverwalk presented by Mosaic included the following displays:

  • A 35-foot-tall LED lighted Christmas tree that floated in the Convention Center basin
  • Two holiday selfie stations: located at Laurel Street Plaza and Water Works Park
  • Lighted garland and red bows on the Riverwalk light poles
  • The festively decorated gazebo in Water Works Park
  • 12’ lighted Christmas tree display on the WWP boat dock
  • Grand Oaks in Water Works Park were aglow with thousands of twinkling white lights
  • Gingerbread lighted display floating in the river by Laurel Street Park
  • Toy train lighted display floating in the river by Laurel Street Park
  • Teddy on a Toy Horse lighted display floating in the river by Laurel Street Park
  • 14’ Pirate Ship lighted display floating in the river by Water Works Park
  • 22’ Pirate Ship lighted display floating in the River by Water Works Park
  • 21’ Pirate Sword Fight lighted display floating in the river by Water Works Park
  • Pirate with a Spyglass and Treasure Chest lighted display floating in the river by Water Works Park
  • Two lighted Pine Tree Forests floating in the River by Cotanchobee Park
  • New this year, an 18’ igloo with whimsical penguin trio sliding floating in the river by Cotanchobee Park
  • Holiday Spectacular sponsors included Barrymore Hotel, Couch Family Foundation, Florida Avenue Brewing, Grow Financial, Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, Mosaic, Pirate Water Taxi, Sparkman Wharf, Tampa General Hospital, Teacher’s Federal Credit Union, WUSF NPR, Yacht StarShip and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners

The holiday spectacular event ran from November 26, 2023 through January 2, 2024.


On December 23, 2023, Friends of the Riverwalk hosted another successful Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, presented by Yacht Starship and Pirate Water Taxi

  • A free, safe opportunity for families to enjoy the holiday lighted boat parade, the waterfront and the Riverwalk
  • 100+ boats registered and several hundred boats were festively decorated along the route
  • Captain Fear, Dexter James and JP Peterson served as the grand marshals of the boat parade this year
  • Thousands of spectators lined the Riverwalk and parks to enjoy the holiday lighted boat parade
  • Parade was live streamed on social media by WTSP
  • A VIP section was available for patrons to watch the parade at the Tampa Convention Center
  • Judges were pairs from Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
  • Trophies and prizes were awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place best-decorated boats
  • All boaters received prize packages at the Captain’s Party sponsored by American Social
  • Holiday Lighted Boat Parade supporting sponsors included American Social, Boat Life, Over the River, Splitsville, Tampa Convention Center and with the support of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners

2023 Riverwalk Clean-up Facts

Friends of the Riverwalk hosted several Riverwalk clean-ups this year in partnership with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.  Trash caught in our waterways tends to wash up on the Riverwalk shoreline specifically around USF Park and Cotanchobee Park where there is plentiful mangrove vegetation.  Riverwalk volunteers work tirelessly to keep our Riverwalk, waterways and shorelines free of trash and debris.  Consider volunteering at our next clean-up and make a difference! 

2023 Stats  

  • 4 clean-ups
  • 215 volunteers
  • 645 hours
  • 181 bags of trash collected
  • 1,062 pounds of trash removed from Riverwalk



Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful corporate program in 2023. Corporate members and local businesses promoted their business and special events with the corporate banner program. Foot traffic along the Riverwalk exceeds 100,000 visitors each month.  Banners are displayed along the Riverwalk year-round to enhance the brand of the Tampa Riverwalk, as well as to promote our supportive members.

There are 110 light poles along the Tampa Riverwalk with 202 available banner spaces. 41 organizations advertised using Riverwalk banner space during 2023.


This program allows individuals to exit a licensed premise within the Riverwalk Specialty Center and possess and consume the alcoholic beverages anywhere within the confines of the Riverwalk open container area between the hours of 11 AM and 1 AM.
Participating vendors include:

  • 3 Corners Pizza
  • Anchor and Brine at Tampa Marriott Water Street
  • Columbia Café located in Tampa Bay History Center
  • Four Green Fields Irish Pub
  • Hotel Tampa Riverwalk
  • Malio’s Prime Steakhouse
  • Over the River
  • Pearl Tampa
  • Pirate Water Taxi
  • Publix GreenWise Market at Water Street Tampa
  • Sail Plaza
  • Straz Center for the Performing Arts
  • Ulele Restaurant and Brewery


Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful Paving the Way program in 2023. The Paving the Way program has raised funds for the organization.  It also adds to the identity and sense of place on the Riverwalk, allowing residents and visitors to commemorate special occasions, honor loved ones or share their love of Tampa on a personalized 12”x12” granite paver.

In 2023, 302 personalized pavers were engraved on the Tampa Riverwalk. Many marriage proposals, new additions to families, significant conferences and major events were memorialized on the Riverwalk.  If you have a special Riverwalk paver story, we would love to hear it!

Our Riverwalk Paver Story campaign has been extremely successful. All who purchase a paver, can share their special paver story with us to share on our social media.


Nestled along Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Historical Monument Trail of beautiful bronze and marble busts and monuments tells the story of many noteworthy people and the significant events that have shaped the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County. It is many things: an educational tool for children and adults, for visitors and residents alike; a commemoration of our ancestors that have contributed so much to our life and culture today; and an inspiration to our entire community.

To make the Historic Monument Trail a reality, The Friends of the Riverwalk, in collaboration with the Tampa Bay History Center, established an esteemed group of local honorees and experts to designate Tampa’s ancestors. There are a total of thirty honorees that were designated from 2012 through 2017.


Friends of the Riverwalk once again produced the #1 brochure pulled in racks throughout the Tampa Bay area in 2023. This publication provides great awareness of what our beautiful city has to offer including local attractions and entertainment, hotels, restaurants, transportation options and exciting community events. The brochure is printed twice a year, once in the spring/summer and again in the fall/winter.  More than 150,000 of these brochures are distributed around Tampa, the region and the state.

2023 Tampa Attractions & Riverwalk Brochure Corporate Membership












Working in partnership with the city to develop, activate and promote Tampa’s downtown waterfront.


To be America's Iconic Riverwalk.


  • Support further expansion and development that increases community access to the waterfront, improves mobility and connectivity and increases people-oriented uses and experiences along the Riverwalk.
  • Create an inviting outdoor destination showcasing downtown parks, museums, attractions, and businesses through outdoor public events and programming.
  • Build a stronger sense of community for everyone.