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Monday, 09 March 2009 21:33

Gasparilla Pirate Fest 2009

Written by  Heidi Lux
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their float Photo by Ian Phoenix.GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST 2009

Tampa, FL (February 2009) - For many, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is an excuse to have a party during the middle of the day. Approximately 500,000 people flock to Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa to watch grown men dress up like pirates and toss plastic beads from brightly-colored floats, all while they indulge in more fun than they could possibly remember.

Even if someone has never been to the annual celebration of Tampa Bay’s pirate history, they know it means two things: beads and booze. But what most people don’t know about Gasparilla is, it’s all done in the name of a good cause. Every “krewe” (organization) involved in the parade, benefits a charity.  For example, The Krewe of Shamrock, the Thieves of San Lorenzo and the Krewe of Agustina de Aragon all benefit the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.

The Mystic Krewe of the Nautilus is one of Gasparilla’s newer krewes, having been around for only five years. The krewe benefits both the Children’s Cancer Center and the Florida Aquarium, and holds several events throughout the year to raise money for these causes, all in addition to their participation in the annual Gasparilla parade. 

The Mystic Krewe of the Nautilus tosses beads to the cheering crowd. Photo by Ian Phoenix “This is our social time where we get our name and word out,” says Minesh Patel, the founder and president of the krewe. Nautilus member Jim Lee keeps the significance of the event in the forefront of his mind. “I like the fact it’s not just doing parade. It combines a lot of interests. It isn’t just hey, let’s go party. We do something and then our reward is a party.”

The Krewe members dress up as submariners, in costumes authentic to the time period, and their float is decorated to look like the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, complete with a red giant squid squeezing the life out of the vessel.  Unlike the Nautilus of fiction, the squid blares the music of Nelly and Jason Mraz at revelers busying themselves with mingling, drinking beers and eating buffet tacos while they wait for the parade to begin.

Throughout the year, the Krewe is involved in three coastal clean-ups and holds their annual “Quest for Hope: The Ultimate Tampa Bay Scavenger Challenge” in May which raises money to provide educational programs at the Aquarium as well as summer camp programs for the Children’s Cancer Center. “It’s a lot of fun and games.” says Tracy Mills, “but it’s a big production,” adds Matt Cherry. A big production, but a rewarding one.

Gasparilla began in 1904, to commemorate the attack of Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar on the city of Tampa. “This is our social time where we get our name and word out,” says Minesh Patel, the founder and president of the krewe. Nautilus member Jim Lee keeps the significance of the event in the forefront of his mind. “I like the fact it’s not just doing parade. It combines a lot of interests. It isn’t just hey, let’s go party. We do something and then our reward is a party.”
The Krewe members dress up as submariners, in costumes authentic to the time period, and their float is decorated to look like the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, complete with a red giant squid squeezing the life out of the vessel.  Unlike the Nautilus of fiction, the squid blares the music of Nelly and Jason Mraz at revelers busying themselves with mingling, drinking beers and eating buffet tacos while they wait for the parade to begin.

Throughout the year, the Krewe is involved in three coastal clean-ups and holds their annual “Quest for Hope: The Ultimate Tampa Bay Scavenger Challenge” in May which raises money to provide educational programs at the Aquarium as well as summer camp programs for the Children’s Cancer Center. “It’s a lot of fun and games.” says Tracy Mills, “but it’s a big production,” adds Matt Cherry. A big production, but a rewarding one.

Gasparilla began in 1904, to commemorate the attack of Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar on the city of Tampa. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose name is homage to the area’s rich and interesting pirate history, had a float to celebrate this tradition as well. whose name is homage to the area’s rich and interesting pirate history, had a float to celebrate this tradition as well.

Read 1176 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 12:37