Sunday, February 10, 2013


Last night I took off into Tampa for the evening with a workmate to attend Gasparilla! Officially called the Gasparilla Pirate Festival - and how can you go wrong with a name like that. I actually changed apartments to about 250m down the road in the 45 minutes before I left which was hot and tiring so I was more than ready for a cold drink (rum, obviously, given the occasion) and some pirates.

On our way. My first beads of the night - didn't last long.

Street vendor gyro for dinner - apparently lamb. I was suspicious but the sauce was delicious.

Street pre-parade
One of the pirates. He was about 60 and wearing high-heeled boots. I had to tip a dollar in his garter for the photo. 

 The festival is somewhat historic - the first parade was 109 years ago and it represents the 'invasion' of Jose Gaspar - a pirate who, legend has it, operated in those parts. Ye Mystick Krewe of Gasparilla sail across Tampa bay in their pirate ship Jose Gasparilla, along with hundreds of smaller boats, then invade the city. They take the key to the city from the Mayor then 'invade' by parading down the streets in their pirate ship floats. After a few weeks of festival antics they parade back, return the key and sail away into the sunset. 

The parade I attended was the Sant'Yago Illuminated Knight Parade. The floats throw beads and coins into the crowd and I was quickly adorned.
The pirates were proceeded by police in cruisers and on motorcyles, lights flashing and sirens blaring. Then it was onto the flotilla! The floats were spectacular and were interspersed with marching bands and dancing girls from the local high schools.
Police escort

Dancing girls

Marching band with awesome hats

Bead wenches

Drunken mermaids - watch for the cups that every member of the parade was holding.

A royal float

The beginning of my bead collection

Badass Neptune

A helpful (if dazed/drunk) pirate

More bead wenches - are you sensing a theme?

The Titanic

And one of its occupants

Obligatory patriotism

Have you got cannons?

Pretty good summary of the parade!

Oh yeah, and everyone had cigars!

Including the floats!

A frisky wench!

My developing bead collection and the front row seat that helped me secure it. Thanks Cole!

Firemen are always sexy.

Terrible photo but great pirate pose

Wench and the grandmother beside me that killed it - she got a ton of beads for her grandkids

About to be given beads

Even security got involved. Look how thrilled he is! (They genuinely did though - most had heaps of beads and some even had kilts!)

Old Nessy

One of the ships led by the Loch Ness Monster

The octopus float which I managed to get on later

Kelly - the lovely wench who let me on the float and was drinking straight vodka for the length of the parade.

My final bead collection - you can also see the back of Grandma's!

The police horse finally - they were very calm given that beads were being 'awarded' to them.

It was a tamer parade than expected so we added the obligatory flashing. My beads (and bikini - shh) saved my modesty.

The octopus again!

V meets beads

Delicious shrimp on Cuban bread and melon/cucumber cocktail to finish the night.
I'm a good friend - I share my beads!

 Yo ho ho and a hearty pirate farewell!

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