Gasparilla is a huge event in the Tampa Bay area. The history stretches way back, more than 100 years and involves lots of floats and pirates that come in many various forms of Krewe and dress. http://www.gasparillapiratefest.com
The name Gasparilla comes from the pirate Jose Gaspar, Jose was “last of the Buccaneers," who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the late 18th and early 19th century. It is reported he left lots of buried treasure along Florida’s coast upon his death that has never been found. The revenue from the Gasparilla Parade is distributed among various charities.
All of the many Krewes have their own special charities that they raise funds for all year long. The members of the Krewes will tell you “of course they love being part of Gasparilla” but they all joined a Krewe to help in their community.
The festivities begin in early January with the Krewe of Brigadoon’s Dragon Party. http://www.kreweofbrigadoon.org
The Dragon Party this year was a huge success with over $5000 being made for the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. Many of the Krewes have season kick off pre- parties. All the parties lead up to the big day of Gasparilla and the pirate invasion! If you missed the Dragon Party on Jan. 12,2013 this year, make sure you make it next January as it is one of the best parties of the year! For a little more info on one of the charities The Krewe of Brigadoon supports follow this link. http://www.jackandjillfoundation.org
One of the highlights of the festivities is a party the morning of Gasparilla which begins at 7:30 AM. This party is hosted by a couple of the members of Krewe of Brigadoon. The party is for all the Krewes participating in Gasparilla. The party is called Booze & Booty! This party has many participants from many various Krewes. It is well organized and has buses to transport people at a small fee from the party to the area of Gasparilla known as staging.
Staging is the area where all the Krewes bring their floats and have food and drink for all their members. Members from all of the various Krewes walk around and greet each other and prepare for the floats to begin moving.
The Gasparilla Parade itself will have hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets to see all the pirates and floats and collect beads! This is a once a year one of a kind event that should certainly be on your to do list if you are anywhere near the Tampa Bay area.