There is really only one thing happening in Tampa this weekend. It's the annual come one, come all and have a fest happening in Tampa. It's all about pirates, a real authentic kind of pirate ship, blazing, booming cannons and kidnapping a mayor and seizing the keys to the city for one whole day of rollicking fun and beads and eye patches and eye-popping costumes, and beautiful floats and even more beautiful women dressed in fish net stockings and little else, and enough beer to sink a whole pirate ship.
More fun than a barrel of Klingons.
GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST Saturday, Jan. 26 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Ye Mystic Krewe, the 700 men strong society which has sponsored this event since 1904 nearly set off a panic one late morning this past week when they blasted their way into Mayor Bob Buckhorn's office, kidnapped him and demanded the keys to the city.
The panic was caused by the cannons aboard a jerry-rigged pirate ship atop a float and crowded with pirates, which boomed and boomed and shook the whole city and sent people in the computer center on the third floor of the downtown branch of the public library scurrying for the doors thinking the building was under attack.
No. the library was not under attack, though it sure felt and sounded like it.
The attack, a faux assault, supposedly recalling pirate Jose Gaspars attack on the city back in 1783 was merely the beginning of days and days of ribaldry, and preparing for the next step, the actual taking of the city which will be re-created on Saturday morning starting at 11 a.m. when the pirates, interrupting a brunch honoring the occasion, once again, with cannons booming and blazing, charge ashore at the Tampa Convention Center, confront the mayor again, and seize the key to the city.
This will be followed by the four-hour victory parade including 90 floats, all of the krewes, 14 marching bands and hundreds of thousands of beads tossed to the joyous -300,000 - people along the route and which will begin at Bay to Bay Boulevard and end at Ashley Drive and Cass Street.
Those are the particulars, and if you are a resident of Tampa you know the routine, and the score. It's going to be loud and uncomfortable for pedestrians and motorists and bus-drivers, and nervous small dogs and restive horses, and it's all in fun and there are some pointers for this year to make it safe and easy to manuever and keep you out of jail.
It may sound like issuing traffic citations at a NASCAR race, but if you are caught drinking along the route or anywhere else outdoors in the city other than the eight designated spots -whose workers will card for underage drinkers - you will be given a $75 dollar citation.
If you are underage, you will most likely be arrested. And have to explain it all to your parents.
The surveillance cameras bought by the city for the RNC will be up and running, and monitored.
They will be looking for lost children, fights, people in need of medical help, and though the city denies it, they will probably be on the lookout for the occasional use of alcohol off the designated areas. Ahem.
There will be outdoor music all day long and into the night by some great bands on stages set up around the city.
A list of events and times of every happening during the day will be found at gasparillafest.com
The weather is going to be beautiful. Enjoy the day. Have a good time at the third largest parade in the country after the Macy's Day Parade and the Rose Bowl.
And almost fun as St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.