Spending the holidays in Tampa

Students staying in Tampa for Thanksgiving can either opt for the conventional large dinner or try a smaller substitute instead, depending on the size of their company. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE.

At this point in the semester, students are grateful for the arrival of Thanksgiving, which is a short reprieve from school just days before finals are supposed to start. For college kids, the two-day November vacation means extra study and recreational time, simultaneously. 

However, everyone knows that Thanksgiving is more than a seasonal and temporary pardon for students. It’s time to spend with friends and family and discuss all of the things for which we are grateful while passing the gravy to Aunt Sarah.

Students, especially freshmen, view this holiday as a cure for homesickness, but not everyone is this lucky. For some, home may be too far or expensive to reach — international students from across one pond or another may spend over 24 hours between planes and local transportation as well as thousands of dollars on tickets. 

No matter the reason, any Bull spending next weekend in Tampa, away from family, shouldn’t worry — there’s no reason this Thanksgiving can’t be as memorable as any other.

The first step is to find fellow students who aren’t going home as well. People should ask their friends if they have plans. If that doesn’t work out, the next step is to make a post on a “USF Class of” Facebook page, as this opportunity to make new friends may be disguising itself as a lonely vacation. 

If a person prefers to spend this time alone, that’s just fine, but for the students who favor sticking to the spirit of the season, find a small group to celebrate with.

Apart from spending time with loved ones, a signature characteristic of Thanksgiving is the food. Though making the entire spread — 15-pound turkey and all — is still an option for those who can’t do without it, students who are cooking for less than an extended family can experiment with the traditional meal. 

One alternative is to make sandwiches with turkey slices, a cranberry sauce or spread, and stuffing. If this is too minimalist, students can opt for a smaller bird: try a roasting (or buying an already roasted) chicken instead. 

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do in the area. At 7:30 p.m., the night before Thanksgiving, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena, and this is the perfect opportunity for students to utilize the Lightning’s Student Rush program. 

Students must first sign up by texting “RUSH” to 61873 so that they receive a student rush code on the day of the game. These tickets start at $20 for the best upper level seat available. Students can find out more at NHL.com.

The next morning, students can return to Amalie Arena for the Goody Goody Turkey Gobble Turkey Trot. Registration prices for both the team and individual 5K start at $35, while registration for the 1-mile walk is $15. 

Registration begins at 5:30 a.m., the 5K at 7 a.m. and the mile-long walk at 7:10 a.m. All participants will receive a T-shirt, participation medal and free post-race breakfast. Students who are interested can find the event on Facebook.

Those who aren’t big fans of hectic Black Friday marathons can spend the day downtown instead as Fourth Friday will be in full swing. Students can enjoy free and discounted events, food and attractions all while exploring Tampa. 

Once downtown, people can get around for nothing by taking advantage of the In-Towner, which can be called by phone app, a complimentary hour of Coast Bikes, that new users get if they use the promotional code “FourthFriday1116,” and two free one-way trips per person on the Pirate Water Taxi to certain places along the Riverwalk that are taking part in the festivities. 

Be sure to pick up Fourth Friday wristbands first at any participating venue before starting the adventure. Students can head to FourthFridayTampa.com for a full list of the Tampa businesses taking part as well as any deals available.

What might be the best part of staying in Tampa for Thanksgiving weekend is the fact that students will be able to watch the USF vs. UCF football game at Raymond James Stadium if they want. The Bulls will be facing off against their rivals, the Knights.