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Arrrgggg you ready for it? Hold off on those New Year’s resolutions, Tampa’s favorite holiday is right around the corner (and it involves a lot of rum). The Gasparilla invasion takes place on the last Saturday of January with festivities kicking off at 9am and lasting all day long. The children’s parade will take place the weekend before the adult parade. The invasion is where the pirate ship Jose Gasparilla, emerges at the south end of Hillsborough Bay followed by hundreds of boats. That happens from 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. Whether it’s your first time, or you want to go bigger than last year, here are the X essentials you’ll need to survive Gasparilla.
What is Gasparilla?
Gasparilla is an annual tradition that has been celebrated in Tampa since 1904. It is the third biggest parade in the country. According to the Gasparilla website, it originally started as a spring festival for the “May Day” celebration. Tampa Tribune Society Editor Mary Louise Dodge was helping plan the multiple-day event when George Hardee suggested including the legend of Gasparilla. Then the Tampa Tribune began publishing letters from the Ye Mystic Krewe, detailing the invasion. On the day of the May-Day celebration, 50 Krewe members rode their horses throughout the city.
What to expect at Gasparilla
Gasparilla has grown significantly over the years. Last year had the biggest attendance ever and more than 300,000 people are expected to be at the parade. The day kicks off with hundreds of vessels invading the city of Tampa to reclaim its key from the Mayor. With the key in hand, the pirates celebrate with a 4.5-mile-long parade down Bayshore Blvd. The event is free, but you can purchase bleachers and VIP seats to get some breathing room from the crowd.
Two Gasparilla essentials we left off our list but feel the need to mention are to wear comfy shoes and sunscreen! This is an all-day event, and your feet are going to be killing you by the end of the day if you’re wearing heeled boots. The other essential you’ll need to survive Gasparilla is sunscreen. Even if the forecast calls for cooler weather, you’ll still be out in the Florida sun all day long.
Here are the 9 essentials you and your Krewe will need to survive Gasparilla.