Gasparilla Childrens Parade:Tampa Event Photography

Hello Everyone I have some really fun photos to share with you today! Prior to moving to Tampa 3 years ago I had never heard of Gasparilla. There are several Gasparilla ‘Pirate’ themed events that take place here in January every year. Here is some info from Wikapedia about it:

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is an annual celebration held in the city of Tampa, Florida. Held each year in late January and hosted by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa, it celebrates the apocryphal legend of José Gaspar (Gasparilla), supposedly a Spanish pirate captain who operated in Southwest Florida. The theme is an “invasion” by Gasparilla and his men, which begins when the “Krewe” (made up of residents of the city) arrives on a 165′ long pirate ship, the Jose Gaspar, in Tampa Bay and land near downtown Tampa. The mayor of Tampa then lends the key of the city to the pirate captain and a parade ensues down Bayshore Boulevard, one of Tampa’s major streets. The krewes throw beads, coins and other items while shooting blank pistols from floats during the parade. The average attendance for the event is over 400,000 people. The parade is broadcast every year on WFLA-TV, and has been since 1955; station WTVT-TV also covered the parade from 1955 to 1980. According to the event’s official website, 2003’s Gasparilla parade effected an economic impact of nearly 23 million dollars to Tampa.[1][dead link]
Krewe memberships are highly sought after in many social circles in Tampa, and many celebrate ethnic and cultural themes. The Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the organization which founded and sponsors the parade, is the oldest krewe in Tampa, and among its most prestigious. Members of the many krewes that now participate spend a great deal of money on beads and floats. Area high schools and universities provide marching bands, majorettes, and drill teams as part of the festivities, which mimic the Mardi Gras parades of New Orleans (also held in February).
A week before the “invasion” and the main parade, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla sponsors a family-oriented children’s parade and “Piratechnic Extravaganza,” with fireworks launched over Tampa Bay. 2006’s fireworks display included an impressive airborne element, where an imaginary sea battle took place between a pirate ship in the harbor and a plane which shot off fireworks while doing acrobatic maneuvers.
A few weeks after the invasion, there is a more adult-oriented Sant’Yago Knight Parade (also known as the Gasparilla Knight Parade) in Ybor City, held in the evening and running into the early morning. Krewes have social events and parties throughout the year for members and hold philanthropic events for favored causes.

This past Saturday I attended the Children’s Parade along Bayshore Blvd. There were food stands and entertainers like those you see in these first two photos along the route and it was a beautiful day in the 70’s-I love living in Florida in the winter! Before the regular Children’s parade the toddlers got their chance to walk-or be wheeled down the parade route. Here are a few fun photos of them.

The main Children’s Parade featured large floats with ‘Pirates’ throwing strands of colorful beads, candy and small toys (I got a black foam squeeze ball with the Gasparilla theme printed on it). I stood in the same place throughout taking photos and managed to grab about 20 strands of beads for my self-there are A LOT of beads being thrown! Even this dog sitting atop one of the floats was wearing some. This is my favorite image of the day.

In the background the Gasparilla Pirate ship cruised back and forth along the water all decked out in colorful flags for the occasion.

Here are some photos of people having fun in the parade-I especially love the ones where you can really see how much fun they are having!

Next Saturday I will be attending the main event-The Pirate Invasion and adult parade. Last year I parked myself near the end of the parade route but did not see the Invasion where hundreds of boats arrive-really looking forward to witnessing it and photographing the event-hope to have the best of those images for you next Monday!

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