Last weekend we finally made the trek to Tampa for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. We'd been wanting to go since we heard about it a few years ago and the timing finally worked out with our location.
We drove over Friday night from Mims, FL and checked into a hotel in Ybor City, a historical strip of bars, restaurants and little shops just north of the city. We had dinner at the wonderful Acropolis Taverna and then went back to watch Burn Notice - we're so exciting!
On Saturday we woke up early to head down to the Convention Center for the Invasion Brunch. We hopped the trolley car and were there before we knew it. We took the time to grab a couple of drinks from the outdoor bar and then headed inside. The tables had been moved inside because of the rain, but we snagged a seat by the window and awaited the invasion.
The Jose Gaspar was visible around 1pm and we awaited its arrival along the barricades. It was a sight to see. Men hung off the rigging and crowded the decks. They wore brightly colored pirate clothes, had scars painted on their cheeks and carried beer in a variety of leather pouches. They all wore huge hanks of beads on hooks around their waists and started handing them out immediately. I even got a kiss on the cheek from the first pirate off the boat!
After they disembarked and handed out a bunch of beads, the Mayor of Tampa handed over the key to the city and the party began.
We made our way to our seats for the parade, but thanks to the rain, they were mostly deserted, so we hung out along the barricades again. The parade was a big blur of people dressed in bright velvet and bead lust. Everyone, myself included, just went nutty for beads, screaming and clapping to get the attention of the bead throwers. There was no flashing though, because apparently the Tampa police had begun clamping down on that sort of thing.
After the parade we walked back to the hotel. I had a very bad stomachache (beer on top of rum on top of buffet food, no doubt) and we just kind of lolled about for the rest of the night. I'm sure there was partying to be had around the city, but we weren't really up for it, since we'd gotten rather cold and wet during the parade.
All in all, a very fun thing to do! A recommended activity if you're into pirates and public drinking! ;-)
3 years ago