Gasparilla: Hard Rock Girls

Hard Rock Girls
Photo from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Instagram 

When pirates invade the city of Tampa, residents party with the swashbucklers as they stagger across Bayshore Blvd. Leading the convoy of invaders was the crew of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

With Seminole Hard Rock as the primary sponsor of the 2016 Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the crew was second only to the grand marshal of the parade this year. Every year Seminole Hard Rock makes it a priority to provide the opportunity for their workers to participate in the parade.

On this year’s float they had members from multiple sections of the hotel and casino, President of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino John Fontana and members of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Without a doubt though, the people who attract the most attention on the casino themed float are the Hard Rock Girls, a group of women who represent Hard Rock through promotional events and the annual calendar.

“It’s the most fun I have every year as a Hard Rock Girl” said Jasah Millican, “We get on the float and then we throw beads from start to finish, we dance and have a great time.”

Millican is in her third year as a Hard Rock girl and considers her job, as an ambassador of the company, a privilege.

“As a Hard Rock Girl, it is always your job to be smiling, throwing beads and making sure everyone has good time.” Millican said.

While it may seem that the girls are there to just only entertain, they also make sure to give a personal touch to the parade. This year they met with the parade’s grand marshal, paralyzed Army veteran, Chief Warrant Officer Romulo “Romy” Camargo.

“He gave so much, and lost so much for his country, but he’s still giving back to the vets of Tampa.” Millican said. “Now Tampa is giving back to him…It was a much more personal side of the parade.”

When the Hard Rock girls aren’t going throwing beads during pirate themed parades, they are still raising money for charitable causes, through their calendars.

“As far as benefitting us financially, it all goes back into Tampa.” Millican said, “Why wouldn’t I take a picture for charity, for Tampa, my hometown?”

Local boutique dresses women for success, teaches them to succeed

On North Howard Avenue hides a closet haven for Tampa women. Dress for Success of Tampa Bay is a non-profit organization that provides women with the attire for a professional career and the confidence as well.

The women of Dress for Success give women confidence, support and the little push needed to get women into the workforce.

“Most people know us for giving out suits, but we do more than that. We give out the suits, but we also give women hope,” said Katie McGill, executive director.

Dress for Success offers a 9-week career program called the “Going Places Network” which is for unemployed women seeking employment. During those nine weeks the participants have three mock interviews, a job coach and resume building classes. Along with building career skills, the program also increases the women’s confidence.

“It’s amazing! We are at over 83% placement. And what I see, they come in and it’s the confidence. They had no confidence and the self-esteem is low. And by the end of that nine weeks, when they have the graduation, they are totally different women,” said McGill.

After receiving her diploma Liliana–a recent graduate from the Going Places Network, expressed her appreciation and gratitude for Dress for Success during a speech she gave.

“The Going Places program has been exceptional. I did not know that programs like this existed before. I liked it so much I would like to repeat,” Liliana said.

Now  in its 17th year, Dress for Success Tampa Bay is looking forward to many more years of helping, empowering and giving back to the women of Tampa Bay.

“I love Dress for Success because I see how it really makes women feel and change. The whole thing is to empower them so they can empower someone else,” said McGill.