The Gasparilla Pirate Festival
Treasure awaits ye at the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival that is filled with fun, parades, and some fantastic “piratetechnics.” This year's festival will be split over two weeks, with January 18, 2014 be dedicated to the kiddies and then January 25 dedicated to the parents who have fought hard, have peg legs, and are proficient in their handling of a good sword. Located in Tampa, FL, the best part about this event is that you can plunder for free!
Photo: Brian Delaney
Much Remains Unknown About Jose Gaspar
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is named after the dread pirate Jose Gaspar, who ended up calling himself “Gasparilla.” Once a lieutenant in the Royal Spanish Navy, he and a group of mutineers commandeered a captured boat, set sail to Florida, and terrorized the coast for a few decades. According to his journals, Gasparilla captured 36 ships in his first 12 years of being a pirate of the Caribbean.
In 1821, after years of pirating goodness, Gasparilla and his crew decided to retire and split their fortunes. That is until they saw what they believed to be a merchant ship, loaded with treasure, and seemingly easy to take. They decided to make one last pirating adventure, but alas, it would be their last as the merchant ship was really a US Navy Warship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, in disguise. Gasparilla went down below the waves as his ship was boarded.
Photo: Gordon Tarpley
Let Down the Sails and Have Fun!
The two days will be filled with parades, good food, and a fantastic street festival. The event starts with the kiddie parades on the 18th, including the preschooler stroll where all the pirates-in-training will be allowed to walk the parade route in full attire. Walk-ups are not allowed for this event, so make sure you get your registration in by January 4 if you're planning on attending with the wee ones.
The children's parade is next, and though you can get a free seat like a good pirate should, the best views come from reserved seating that is priced at $28. A guaranteed front row seat will cost your pirate wallet a good $40. In return, you'll get to see over 100 entries from all over the area that represent local schools who teach the ways of the landlubber.
A 23 minute firework show is scheduled for 7pm after the wee ones enjoy their day of being a pirate. Then the next week you get to repeat all the fun, but this time there is rum included! No word about having to stand on a dead man's chest to get this rum at this time, however, so bring sturdy pirate boots just in case.
Photo: Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures
100% of Purchases Support Local Charities
Now the kiddies have an alcohol-free event so that the entire family can pursue hidden booty with worry-free glee, but the adult event will have plenty of beer gardens that offer Captain Morgan Rum with Coke in addition to, you guessed it... beer. A valid photo ID is required to make a purchase, even if being a landlubber has caused you to age gracefully!
All purchases made of these celebratory drinks at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival go to support local charities within the Tampa community. Over the past five years of the event, over $300,000 has been plundered from local wallets to help those in need. The beer tents and gardens are cash only, so make sure to visit an ATM that is along the parade route to make sure you can adequately bribe the dispensaries for a wee bit of rum.
Photo: Gordon Tarpley
Are Ye Ready To Demand a Good Time?
From the Saturday brunch through the fireworks shows, there are plenty of free and paid events that will cure your pirate lust throughout 2014. Reserved tickets are available through the event's website if you wish to reserve parade seats or attend the brunch and demand a key to Tampa itself! None of this is required, however, so ye may wish to save ye funds and drink lots of rum instead!
Bring yer friends, be prepared for a pirate adventure, and enjoy all of the best that Tampa has to offer at the 2014 Gasparilla Priate Festival this year! Now ahoy!