An objective view of Gasparilla

A self-portrait of Doug Marriott.
Doug Marriott won’t be attending Gasparilla Pirate Festival anytime soon.

While people in Tampa found the area’s annual Gasparilla Parade appealing with its copious amounts of alcohol, oodles of beads and massive caravans of floats, Riverview resident Doug Marriott viewed the event in a different light.

 Keeping in mind the historical traditions that the parade celebrates, Marriott, 24, says he sees Gasparilla as  just another excuse for people to become highly inebriated in today’s version of it, amid all of the swashbuckling participants.

“I personally feel like any connection to the original reason for celebration has just given way to a reason for people to dress like pirates and day drink,” Marriott said.

Marriott was out of town this past Saturday when the parade occurred, but says he wouldn’t have gone regardless, as he had been required to be at the parade several years in a row back in his high school days.

The sheer amount of pedestrians every year devoid of inhibitions was enough to permanently deter him from Gasparilla’s festivities.

“I haven’t gone in the past, nor do I plan on going in the future because I have experienced the negative side of the parade first hand while marching with my high school band,” Marriott said. “I don’t think it’s a great idea, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea either.”

Despite the double edged opinion he has of Gasparilla, Marriott is still intrigued by the concept of the parade, as it has its fair share of irony.

“I think Gasparilla is certainly an interesting tradition,” He said. “I personally find it odd that we celebrate the pirate invasion of our home, considering pirates’ proclivity for murder, thievery and otherwise violent crime.”

The parade still remains a major part of Tampa’s rich culture every January, and for that Marriott does give it credit. 

Gasparilla’s seemingly endless surplus of glittery beads and foamy, everlasting fountains of Miller Lite are comparable to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, except with a more Caribbean flavor.

“I think it somewhat contributes positively to Tampa culture. It sets us apart from other cities, it seems to be a unique event in our history,” Marriott said. “The drunk people certainly don’t help much though.”