It all started in 1904 when the mystical legend of Jose Gaspar came to life. Gaspar and his scar-faced, eye patch-wearing band of pirates soon became well known to Tampa residents as Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. Donned in the garb of high seas pirates they stormed downtown Tampa and demanded that the mayor surrender the city. The pirate theme behind the Tampa Bay started here.
We attended that Gasparilla Parade on February 13, 1999 in downtown Tampa, FL. My wife Linda and my brother Darrin and I had a great time. I even marched in the parade as member of the East Bay High School JROTC drill team. My wife Linda is newcomer to the area and she really enjoys the festivities.
My brother Darrin and my wife Linda at "our spot" on the corner of Florida and Channelside. We had quick access to a bar around the corner with a bathroom with minimal wait, in the shade, with a decent view of the parade and the crowd and a place to sit.
My brother Darrin and I ready to head out to the Gasparilla parade with a few of our beads from last year. It was 80 degrees and sunny in February! We are having a very mild winter to say the least. Last year at Gasparilla it was 40 degrees and windy. Quite a difference. The good part is that we stay cold for a short time and most the time it is in the 70s versus the 40s here this time of the year.
Gasparilla Parade 1999 Tampa, Florida
Each year the siege is repeated. The pirate ship 'Jose Gaspar' sails into downtown Tampa with a flotilla of hundreds of boats. The pirates blast away with pistols and cannons as they prepare to start the invasion. The captain and his Krewe capture the city (with little resistance) and share their wealth of trinkets, dabloons and necklaces with the enthusiastic crowd along the parade route.
The pirate theme is carried on by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is the pirate ship in the north end of the end zone at Raymond James Stadium.
It is something to see normally sane people scramble over each other to get a 25¢ string of plastic beads. It is generally good natured and it is a lot of fun.
One of our new friends at Gasparilla 1999. I kept one pair of beads, gave three to my wife. Darrin kept one set also. The dozen or more others we gave away to our neighbors. Everyone was having a good time. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!