The annual Gasparilla Parade galumphed down Bayshore Boulevard last month with people wearing their favorite swashbuckling outfits and pirate jewels, anticipating one of the most attended celebrations in the area.
The community comes together for this event in grand fashion, and all of south Tampa turns into a scene from Tortuga out of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Pirate flags wave on doorsteps from Westshore to Bayshore, and streets fill up with scallywags primed for pillaging and plundering.
Nearly 1 million people showed up for the celebration downtown, and police were in full force, but that didn’t stop revelers from getting a little wild. Spectators from all over the country showed up for the big event ready to party.
“You see everybody coming out; they’re sharing their beer, and they’re sharing their liquor, and it’s a Saturday everyone enjoys all together — not just as individuals but as a community,” said Adam Husarek, a spectator at the Gasparilla Parade. “The pirates come out and really remind us what a sense of community is.”
Being on the floats can be even more exhilarating, according to Scott Melanson, a member of the Krewe of Brigadoon, who helps build and maintain the floats.
“Being in a crew and walking down the parade with thousands and thousands of people is a rush. It’s really, really cool,” Melanson said. “The fun part is seeing everyone enjoy themselves, take a day off from reality and have fun with your friends.”
Gasparilla has defined Tampa Bay and its residents for a century. Jose Gaspar would be proud of this city of Buccaneers. The canons fired, booty was looted, and nobody ended up in Davy Jones’ Locker. The Gasparilla Invasion was a success.
There is also a night parade and a parade children only. A Gasparilla Music Festival will also take place in March.