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Gasparilla Events

Official Gasparilla Web Site
Major Events

Gasparilla Invasion & Parade ~ February 7, 2004 (First Watch is January 31, 2004) ~ presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla ó The Krewe's ship (the Jose Gasparilla) will lead a flotilla of hundreds of boats across Tampa Bay and up the Seddon Channel into downtown. The Jose Gasparilla is scheduled to dock at Knight's Point on Harbour Island at 1:15pm. The Parade of Pirates ¬ó presented by Ye Mystical Krewe of Gasparilla will commence at 1:45 p.m. During the historic Parade of Pirates the pirates are given the chance to celebrate their victory and share their treasure with the crowd.

2001 Gasparilla poster
by Alberto de Lama

Pirate Invasion/Gasparilla Pirate Fest

2/7/2004 - The 700 members of Ye Mystic Krewe will leave Ballast Point on the Jose' Gasparilla around 11:30 a.m.. They will land at the Tampa Convention Center about 1-1/2 hours later. The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates will begin at 1:30 p.m. in downtown Tampa. For nearly 100 years pirates have invaded Tampa Bay. The unruly plunderers take over the city in honor of the mythical legendary pirate Jose Gaspar. The festival ¬Ė ¬ďGasparilla Pirate Fest,¬Ē is one of the country¬ís largest and most unique outdoor celebrations. It begins when the world¬ís only fully-rigged pirate ship sails into the heart of downtown Tampa. Flanked by hundreds of pleasure craft and vessels of all shapes and sizes, the invasion is a formidable sight. Built entirely of steel, the black-hulled Jose Gasparilla measures 165 feet in length and is topped by three masts that tower 100 feet above deck. Tugboats tow the craft and its crew of 700 pirates with flags flying and cannons booming as the vessel makes its way up Hillsborough Bay and into downtown Tampa.

Fiesta Day in Ybor City

2/28/2004 - FIESTA DAY - Tampa's historical Ybor City showcases its ethnic roots with Fiesta Day. For more than 50 years, Fiesta Day has been a tradition in historic Ybor City. It was started to honor the oldest residents living in Ybor. Now, the free street festival honors the Cuban, German, Italian, African-Cuban, Jewish and Spanish immigrants who first settled in Ybor in 1886. A 54-year-old tradition, the festival extends 14 blocks, fills the streets with fun and activities such as arts and crafts, concerts, Spanish style cuisine and cultural exhibits. For more information please call (813) 247-4951.

Gasparilla Children's Parade

1/31/2004 - 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Children's Gasparilla Parade begins at 4:30 p.m. With "Piratechnics" at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley, the Gasparilla Children's Parade is a scaled-down version of the Pirate Invasion with lots of opportunities for the little ones to get the coveted beads. For information please call (813) 274-8518.

Knight Parade

2/21/2004 - 3 - 10pm. Parade begins at 6 p.m. The streets of Channel District and Ybor City come ablaze when hundreds of floats masked with lights and loaded with bands and pirates fill the streets for the Sant' Yago Knight Parade. It's the city's biggest night parade and named for the Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago, a 250-member group that has its roots in the ninth-century Spanish Brotherhood of the Royal Order of St. James. The krewe designed the parade as a way to enhance and perpetuate Tampa’s strong Latin heritage.

Gasparilla Distance Classic

1/24/2004 - The Bank of America 28th Annual Gasparilla Distance Classic attracts world-class runners who compete on foot in 5K and 15K events and - in the 15K course only - in wheelchairs. Consistently voted the best race in Florida by Florida Running Magazine and ranked among the Top Ten Races in the United States by Runner's World, the Bank of America Gasparilla Distance Classic has become one of the largest running events in Florida.

Gasparilla Festival of Arts

3/6/2004 - 3/7/2004 - Hundreds of painters, artisans, photographers, sculptors, jewelers and artists from around the world display their work at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. The first show began in 1971 and featured 130 artists. In 2001, with 300 exhibitors, the festival attracted more than 300,000 art enthusiasts, making it one of the largest art shows in the Southeast.

Gasparilla Events

For more information on these events, call regarding Gasparilla Festival of Arts at (813) 876-1747.


2004 Gasparilla Centennial Celebration

First Watch will be January 31, 2004. The pirate Invasion and Parade is scheduled for February 7, 2004. Further information will be given as soon as it's available.

The annual Gasparilla festival dates back to 1904 and celebrates the exploits of pirate Jose Gaspar, who is said to have roamed the Caribbean during the late 18th and early 19th centuries with his outlaw crew.

The festival's highlight is the annual invasion, when costumed pirates sail into Tampa and join other groups with their elaborate floats and colorful costumes in a parade through downtown as hundreds of thousands of spectators beg for beads, coins and other trinkets.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the organization that conducts the pirate invasion and hosts the parade, is an all-male group that includes many of the city's most prominent businessmen.


History of Gasparilla


Gasparilla belonged to the Court of Spain. He was an intelligent man with connections with the Spanish Navy. Due to his position he had access to crown money and jewels. When he had a falling out with the Spanish Court, he "kept" a lot of their money. He took one of their ships, and buried his new found treasure on the coast of Spain. The Spanish fleet was hot on his heels so he went to Cuba and decided to be a pirate. Since his brother in Cuba was in the mercantile business, Gasparilla could dispose of his ill-gotten gains.

His principal operations theater was in Charlotte Harbor or Lemon Bay. His first operations base was at the mouth of the Manatee River at the end of Tampa Bay. He spent 40 years plundering Spanish ships with hauls of Mexican Gold and Silver on the way back to Spain. He had an avid hatred for anything Spanish.

His mother-load of treasures was the capture, through trickery, of the monies paid to Napoleon by America for the Louisiana Purchase. $11,750,000 in gold bullion, in the latter part of 1818, was to be paid to France through a Dutch Bank. His spies were two women lobbyists that were friends of the pirate Jean Laffite. They notified Gasparilla that the Dutch ship (thought to be the Peacock) was carrying the load.

On one of Gasparilla's voyages (about 1820) he captured a Spanish vessel at night, out 60 miles west of Boca Grande pass. He killed all the men (they were the hated Spaniards) and captured considerable treasure.

Also on the ship was a Spanish Princess with ten Mexican girls that were to be educated in a convent. The women were taken to his camp close to Turtle Bay. The girls were given to the men for their pleasurers, but the Princess was to marry Gasparilla. She refused and fought him. He told her that he would kill her if she continued to rebuff him. She answered that he should do what he must. He cut her head off. In 1902, Mr. Oliver Parker found her grave with her head laying on one side.


Gasparilla also had a brother with him who commanded one of his ships. When he died, he was buried on the mainland about twelve feet North of where the store and post office at Placida now stands (1909). His grave was found by Mr. James Parker in March, 1897. He was a habitual or inveterate smoker as his front teeth were worn away from holding a pipe.

Pirate Congress (1824)

About the time America bought Florida in 1821 from Spain, (cost $6,000.000), the pirates became so alarmed over the combined governments, America, England, France, and Spain resolve to disband piracy they held a Congress to decide whether to disband or continue piracy. They were represented by such notable pirates as Gasparilla, King John (Portuguese from Miami), Old Caesar from Caesars Creek near Key Largo, John Gomez (brother-in-law of Gasparilla) Hay Hackley from the Caloosahachle River near Punta Rassa, Old Baker, and others. The Congress lasted two months. The result was that the Pirates continued to pilferage for the next two years until they were all captured.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa

In February of each year, hundreds of boats and the world's only fully rigged pirate ship, the "Jose Gaspar" and its crew of 700 rowdy pirates invade the city. The pirates are made up of the city's most prominent business men. After the invasion the pirates then parade along Bayshore Boulevard and celebrate with concerts and entertainment in downtown Tampa.

Two pirates are talking. One has a wooden leg, a hook and an eye patch.
First pirate: "How'd you get that wooden leg, mate?"
Second pirate: "Aye, a varmit shark bit it off. Argh."
First pirate: "How'd you get that metal hook?"
Second pirate: "Lost 'er in a sword fight ... guy cut off me bloody hand. Argh."
First pirate: "How'd you get that eye patch?"
Second pirate: "Well, I was up in the crows nest and I looked up to spy this seagull. The darn thing went to the bathroom right in me eye! Argh."
First pirate: "Well, how'd that make you blind?"
Second pirate: "Argh, it was the first day I had me hook!"

Pirate Song ~ Yo Ho Ho

Fifteen Men on a dead man's chest. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
the mate was fixed by the sosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingrs ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of the whole ship's list, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore
And the scullion he was stabbed times four
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped down in up-staring eyes
In murk sunset and foul sunrise, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the murder mark! Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead
Or a oawing hole in a battered head
And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes
Looking up at paradise
All souls bound just contrawise, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em good and true, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ev'ry man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
With a ton of plate in the middle hold
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there that took the plum
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb
While we shared all by the rule of thumb,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through a sternlight screen...
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Chartings undoubt where a woman had been
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
'Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot
Oh was she wench or some shudderin' maid
That dared the knife and took the blade
By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well
And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Seasonal Recipes!



Heat oil in Dutch oven over mediumheat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, aniseed and dried red pepper. Sautefive minutes. Push onion to side of pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper andadd to pan. Saute chicken about five minutes. Drain beans; reserve 1/2 cup beanliquid. Add beans, broth, chilies, cream and reserved been liquid to chicken.Simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season totaste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared a day ahead: Cover and refrigerate.Reheat before using.) Ladle chili into bowls. Top with cheese and sprinkle withcilantro. Makes 6 servings.


Recommended Reading

Blackbeard: A Tale of Villainy and Murder in Colonial America - By Margaret Hoffman. For two years, until his untimely death in 1718, the notorious pirate wrecked havoc on Atlantic coastal shipping.

Sir Francis Drake : The Queen's Pirate - By Harry Kelsey. In this lively and engaging new biography, Harry Kelsey shatters the familiar image of Sir Francis Drake. The Drake of legend was a pious, brave, and just seaman who initiated the move to make England a great naval power. Kelsey paints a far more interesting picture of Drake as an amoral privateer who lined his pockets with Spanish booty.

Treasure Islands : The Fascinating World of Pirates, Buried Treasure, and Fortune Hunters - By Cameron Platt, John Wright. Who hasn't dreamed of uncovering buried treasure on a distant island? Here are the true stories of 11 teasure islands worldwide, each full of real-life adventure.

Under the Black Flag : The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates - By David Cordingly. This book is a great one! Covers many areas of Pirates, from accounts of several women pirates (and thought there were only two!) to dispelling common myths about the lot. Interesting read and fabulous reference.

Everything I Know About Pirates : A Collection of Made-Up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures About Bad Guys of the High Seas - By Tom Lichtenheld. Ahoy there, matey! All buccaneers to the poop deck or ye'll be walkin' the plank! Aaarrgh! Author and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld always wondered why pirates' pants are so raggedy on the bottom edges, and what makes pirates so crabby all the time, and why it is that earrings were macho on pirates way before they became cool for any other guys. So he decided it was up to him to write the final word on piratedom. This encyclopedia of spectacularly unscientific, unfounded facts about those nasty brigands of the sea will thoroughly satisfy the curiosity of landlubbin' vermin and pirate wannabes alike. Complete with name charts (pick one word from each of three columns to come up with a name like Blind Tooth Willy or One Boot Kidd), diagrams of swashbuckler fashion, and cutaway views of pirate ships, this volume is chock full of unforgettable and indispensable details of the buccaneering life. Did you know, for example, that pirates are very clumsy--why else would they always end up with eye patches and hooks? And the skull and crossbones was not discovered inside the desk of a seventh-grader in De Kalb, Illinois, as is commonly believed. It was Leonardo "Peg Leg" da Vinci who invented the design. Confused by all this technical lingo? Check out the Official Pirate Glossary in the back. Lichtenheld's hilarious illustrations and outrageous nonsense makes for a delicious reading experience for swashbucklers of all ages.

Picnics & Tailgates : Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors , Vol 1) - By Time-Life Books (Editor), Diane Rossen Worthington, Chris Shorten.

Tailgating without a Hitch - Tailgate Cooking Made Fun - By Kathy Clyne Merrill. Delicious, fun recipes for cooking outdoors at a tailgate party. Includes complete how-to information for preparing the event.

Lets Go Shopping!

Other Pirate/Gasparilla Sites

Gasparilla Distance Classic
Gasparilla Festival Of The Arts
History of Gasparilla
The Krewe of Ybor
Pirate Image Archive
Pirate Pete
Web Index of Piracy
Welcome to Pirates

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Changes last made on: Fri Dec 26, 2003