Back in the late 18th & 19th centuries, a legendary pirate, a "buccaneer" named Jose Gaspar & his crew invaded the shores of West Florida.
How does a community remember men who terrorized your citizens, stole your gold & took your women against their will?
You throw an annual festival & parade in their honor, of course.
And you call it Gasparilla, of course.
And you name your football team after them. Duh?!
B-U-C-C-A-N-E-E-R-S! Go Bucs!
Gaparilla is HUGE in Tampa! Many of the the prominent businessmen & women in the Tampa Bay area belong to clubs or "Krewes" who plan this event every year. They raise millions of dollars for charities.
Oh! Did I mention they dress like pirates and wenches while they do it? And there is plenty of beer & Captain Morgan to go around.
It's Tampa's answer to Mardi Gras.
Many Tampa residents (especially the wealthy ones) own at least one pirate outfit. It's how we roll in Tampa Bay.
Michael & I have lived in the Tampa area for 31 & 30 years respectively and NEITHER OF US HAVE EVER BEEN TO GASPARILLA!!!
Until last weekend.
All of you up North facing the Blizzard of the Century today may not want to read the next stanza.
It was a BEAUTIFUL DAY! Gorgeous sunshine & temps in the mid-70s.
We parked Ybor City & planned to take the trolley to the parade. But the trolleys were full so we hopped on a city bus with the group of pirates.
Standing room only.
Ben's first (and he says last) ride on a city bus.
We arrived at the Convention Center a little later than we hoped & couldn't see the invasion very well. If you look closely between the two palm trees closest to the camera you can see the pirate ship, Jose Gasparilla, belonging to the oldest Gasparilla Krewe, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. This beautiful ship was built in 1954 & is the only fully rigged pirate ship to be built in modern times. She's a beauty & her cannons are LOUD!!! And smoky!
There was definitely a palpable excitement in the air!
And a pretty cute boy in the crowd.
Lots of pirates were roaming about. Here are some of the new friends we made on the bus getting their picture taken with some of them.
As we walked toward the parade route, we walked over a bridge & I was able to get a shot of some of the other boats that had gathered in the Bay for the occasion.
Here are my boys walking toward the parade route like cattle.
I normally do anything & everything I can do to avoid a crowd. But I have to admit I was sooooooo excited to be there.
Of course there were a lot of healthy food choices.
Oh look! There's that handsome kid again!
Walking along the parade route taking in the sights.
Some of the modestly clad parade goers.
Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa is lined with beautiful, historic homes. Many of which were all decked out for the occassion.
Bayshore Blvd. also boasts of having the longest contiguous sidewalk in the USA, in case you were wondering.
Some people will do anything not to be recognized.
Pirates & port-a-potties. A match made in heaven.
I have to tell you, this formal looking military type gathering looked a little out of place amongst the revelry going on around it. I have no idea what it was all about.
We decided this would be a good place to stop & people watch before the parade got underway.
Here's an unsuspecting girl who is about to be VERY angry.
And a rowdy group of pirates.
Green guy's pirate friend.
Here's a guy who likes to hang out at the gym. At the tattoo parlor. Maybe there is a gym with a tattoo parlor in the lobby?!
I don't know what to say about these guys.
But they wanted to show me the
cute little dog attached to his leg.
Beverage consumption is obviously this gal's priority.
And it was probably his too.
This pretty woman was attracting quite the crowd.
At last the parade started! Our choice of seating was less than stellar. But honestly Gasparilla isn't about the parade. It's about the seeing & being seen. And beer.
Here are two very different young ladies both hoping for some beads.
Beads. Beads. Beads. '
Everyone wants some beads.
We had heard that women at Gasparilla get beads in much the same way women at Mardi Gras get beads, we didn't see any of that.
Oh dear. It appears that out lady friend has been left all by her lonesome while all her friends are off acquiring their beads.
We did notice that the drunkeness level of the crowd was increasing rather quickly.
So we decided to start our trek back before the parade was through. Easier said than done.
Stay classy, Tampa.
On our way down Bayshore, we saw Megan's favorite pirate, Capt. Jack Sparrow, of course.
After what seemed like an eternity, we found ourselves in a quiet part of town. This is only about 2 blocks off the parade route but it seemed so peaceful by comparison.
Judging by the fact that there were probably an estimated 250,000 people at the parade & we saw not one person walking as we made our way to the trolley stop... I'm thinking we took the looooooonnnnggg way.
But it was kind of cool to seemingly have the city to ourselves, while we knew there were so many people so close by.
We finally got to our trolley stop just in time. And once again it was standing room only.
Ya gotta love a parade!