TAMPA — Batten down the hatches; the 2014 Gasparilla pirate invasion and related events begin soon.
Work crews this week began setting up bleacher seats along Bayshore Boulevard, the main drag for many of the festivities that together make up Tampa’s signature season.
Events kick off with the Gasparilla Children’s Parade on Jan. 18. The Gasparilla pirate invasion, parade and Pirate Fest take place the following Saturday, Jan. 25.
“If we can have some great weather, it will be a great year,” said Don Barnes, executive director of the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. “We’re looking forward to it.”
This year marks the 60th time the famed Gasparilla pirate ship, the Jose Gaspar II, has crossed Hillsborough Bay to invade downtown Tampa; and the 100th anniversary of the Ye Mystic Krewe’s royal court, Barnes said. More than 30 past queens of Gasparilla will be on a float behind this year’s court in the Parade of Pirates.
Admission to the invasion and parade are free, but Gasparilla-goers must pay to reserve seats along the parade route. They also may claim, in advance, their spots at the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch at the Tampa Convention Center.
Gasparilla, an annual Tampa tradition that was started in 1904, draws thousands of people each year. The festivities include multiple parades and parties as well as races and an art festival.
For more information regarding reserved seating, the brunch, parking, street closings and public transportation, go to www.gasparillapiratefest.com.