Gasparilla! America’s Third Largest Parade!

“The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a large parade and a host of related community events held in Tampa, Florida almost every year since 1904.   The theme of the festivities is an invasion by the mythical pirate José Gaspar (also known as Gasparilla), who is a popular figure in Florida folklore even though there is no evidence that he actually existed.   The focal point of Gasparilla is the Parade of Pirates, which is held on the last Saturday in January and is often referred to as the Gasparilla Parade. Since its inception, it has been organized by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), an organization modeled after the “krewes” that participate in Mardi Gras in New Orleans. On Gasparilla Day, members of YMKG sail into downtown Tampa aboard their large replica pirate ship accompanied by hundreds of private boats to demand that the mayor hand over the key to the city. Afterwards, they stage a “victory parade” along Bayshore Boulevard accompanied by dozens of other krewes and community organizations, with the festivities continuing into the nighttime hours along the Tampa Riverwalk. -Wikipedia

Gasparilla began in 1904 as an informal pirate parade that was a small part of a larger community event, such as Tampa’s May Day festival. It was first held as a stand-alone event in 1913, and after a hiatus during World War II, the Parade of Pirates has grown into the third largest parade in the United States with a local economic impact of over $20 million and an average attendance of about 300,000.”  Wikipedia.

Well yesterday was the Gasparilla pirate parade in Tampa and apparently over 300,000 looked on as the pirates, pirate floats, bands and cheerleaders marched down Bayshore Blvd.  The parade is now the 3rd largest in America trailing only the Tournament of Roses and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades.

Once upon a time the pirates would fire guns (supposedly loaded with blanks!) into the air and throw the spent shells into the crowd.  That sort of thing was banned in the mid ’90s; now the pirates throw beads.

Two other major parades are held around the Parade of Pirates: the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, which is held on Bayshore Boulevard one week before the main parade, and the Sant’Yago Illuminated Knight Parade, which is organized by the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’Yago in the historic neighborhood of Ybor City two weeks after the main parade. Each of these events typically draw about 100,000 revelers.

Tampa now celebrates an informal “Gasparilla season” which runs from approximately mid-January to mid-March. Besides the three large parades, the city hosts many other community events during this time, including the Gasparilla Film Festival, the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, the Gasparilla Distance Classic, and the Gasparilla Music Festival, along with a lineup of smaller events that varies from year to year.

Now yesterday the Kumquat Festival was also held held in nearby Dade City with the usual small town county fair activities, including everything you ever wanted to know and could do with Kumquats – but I figured you would rather hear about pirates this morning.

🙂

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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8 Responses to Gasparilla! America’s Third Largest Parade!

  1. beetleypete says:

    That pirate parade was news to me, Frank.
    Now, about those Kumquats… 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. toritto says:

    And the Strawberry Festival! Great cake!

    Like

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Well it looks a lot more fun than the Naked Bike Ride in Portland! Which pirate are you?

    Liked by 1 person

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