Gasparilla Pirate Festival

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Gasparilla Pirate Festival

Early February
A 164-foot reproduction pirate ship sails up Florida's Tampa Bay and into the Hillsborough River with its cannons booming. About 500 costumed pirates lower themselves over the side and "capture" the city of Tampa and its mayor, raising the pirate flag over city hall. Thus begins the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, one of the nation's largest and best-attended celebrations. The mock invasion is followed by a three-hour victory parade featuring members of a men's club known as Ye Mystic Krewe, which started the pirate festival in 1904.
The festival is named for JosÉ Gaspar, an 18th-century Spanish pirate who terrorized the Florida coast from around 1783 until his death in 1821, when he wrapped a length of anchor chain around his waist and leapt into the sea brandishing his sword rather than be captured by a U.S. Navy warship.
CONTACTS:
Eventmakers Corporation
3701 W. Azeele St.
Tampa, FL 33609
813-353-8070; fax: 813-353-8075
www.eventmakers-fl.com
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 127
AnnivHol-2000, pp. 34, 35
BkHolWrld-1986, Feb 7
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 74
GdUSFest-1984, p. 37
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