Friday, February 11, 2011

Gasparilla Week - Tampa 2011

Gasparilla Week - Tampa, Florida 2011

In my old neighborhood these events had names like 'Hampton Bay Days' or 'Norfolk Harborfest'. 

Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a celebration of the history of Tampa Bay that relates to pirate lore.  If you happen to be in Tampa Florida during the last week of January, it is worth visiting.  The party lasts a week.  The first weekend is for the children.  Why?  I guess it is due to the party animal adults of weekend 2.  For several years this party got WAY crazy (according to the locals - this was my first visit).  When you mix young adults with boats, parties and unlimited alcohol, I can see why.  There has been more organization and controls in place the last two years.  I was there all day on Saturday and did not see any real problems, except the trash left behind.  Photos of my visit, password is shadow.

Bayshore Blvd of Tampa FL is supposedly the longest paved sidewalk in the USA.  It is a 4 mile plus paved roadway and sidewalk of the beautiful Tampa Bay and bay front homes.  If you happen to be in Tampa FL any time of year, this is a beautiful place to visit.  For this celebration, the roadway is fenced off and it turns into a parade route and party.  BYOB into the fence line and have have at it.  As the parade passes, beads and other pirate treasure is thrown to the crowd, much like New Orleans and Mardi Gras.  The event kicks off with a HUGE flotilla of boats into Tampa Bay, lead by and inspired by a Tall Ship Battle with canons and smoke.  The pirates dock in Tampa and then are commuted to the parade route.  Many visitors dress in pirate garb and turn this into a nice family event.  Many parties are hosted at beautiful mansions along the bay.  The water way is FILLED with boats and the coast guard and police truly get to have some fun.  Speaking of police, I have never seen so many in one place.  Cars, motorbikes, bikes, horses, boats, helicopters.  Unfortunately, two officers were killed and one wounded in a gun battle during an arrest just the week prior here in Tampa.  Fortunately, arrests were down at this years event and as I said, I saw no problems except a very few who drank too much; it probably got worse after dark.

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