Be prepared for a second giant pirate invasion of Tampa on Saturday when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla takes over the city. Despite feeble protests and objections from citizens and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the odds favor the mayor handing over the keys to the city to the pirates at the Tampa Convention Center at 1 p.m. This pirate invasion comes with Tampa’s civic leaders in pirate costumes, thousands of beads and alcohol. Tampa Police and the City of Tampa show where alcohol consumption is allowed.
Since the Boston Marathon bombing, Tampa Police will have a higher presence, including security cameras from the Republican National Convention along the parade route today. Police will look for drunk, disorderly, suspicious parade goers and do searches of what you bring to the parade. Today’s festivities is Tampa’s biggest party. The Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, Gasparilla Parade of Pirates and Gasparilla Pirate Street Festival are all free to the public.
Since 1904, the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar and his pirates have invaded Tampa first by sea, then by land. Before the parade, a magnificent site is the flotilla of the fully-masted Jose Gasparilla pirate ship and hundreds of boats sailing into Hillsborough Bay and Seddon Channel between Davis Island and Harbour Island. The Gasparilla Invasion is from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The waterfront hotels, Davis Island and Harbour Island are popular spots to see it.
Jan. 18, 2014 on Bayshore Boulevard
The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates is from 2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. The 4-mile parade route starts at Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevard, winds down scenic Bayshore Boulevard and ends at N. Ashley Boulevard and W. Cass Street in downtown Tampa. The parade will have over 130 units, over 90 floats, 14 marching bands and over 50 krewes of pirates tossing beads to parade goers.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to line Bayshore Boulevard and converge on downtown Tampa. Parking is available in downtown Tampa and Ybor City. From Ybor City, take a bus or street car to the parade in downtown Tampa. Expect to walk a few blocks to the parade route on Ashley Drive. For this parade, City of Tampa and Ybor City garages and lots are charging $10 for parking, a special event fee. It cost $5 to park at the Whiting and Fort Brooke garages for the Gasparilla Children’s Parade last Saturday.
For this parade, there are no $5 bus shuttles to Bayshore Boulevard. However, you can buy a $5 TECO Street Car all-day pass and $4 all-day pass for HART buses that drop you off at several stops on Marion Street to watch the parade on N. Ashley in downtown Tampa. It’s cash only to ride the street cars and buses. To take the Hart In-Town trolley, it’s 25 cents exact change. The all-day TECO street car and HART bus passes also are accepted to hop aboard.
The Gasparilla Pirate Street Festival is on N. Ashley Drive from Kennedy Boulevard to Cass Street. It runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The festival has live entertainment and food vendors.
Expect road closures today. The Florida Department of Transportation advises parade goers to call 511 for traffic updates. WFLA-TV will have live coverage of the parade this afternoon. For more information, go to http://www.gasparillapiratefest.com