TAMPA — The history of the local Gasparilla festival is explored in an exhibit opening Friday at the Henry B. Plant Museum on the University of Tampa campus.
“Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition,” features Krewe of Gasparilla memorabilia, including coronation robes, ball invitations, programs, crowns and costumes as well as vintage photographs of the invasion, parade floats, pirates and royal courts.
To kick off the new exhibit, the museum will present a program on Friday, “Gasparilla: Tall Tales & Scandalous Stories,” featuring a celebrity panel of past krewe captains. Participants in the free program are Jim Ferman, Hal Mullis, Preston Farrior, Norman Stallings Jr. and Jim Robbins. It is open to the public from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. in the Music Room, Plant Hall at the university.
In the exhibit is a 1950s princess gown designed by Anne Lowe, an African-American fashion designer from Tampa, famous for her one-of-a-kind Gasparilla dresses. She later gained fame when she designed and made Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses.
As part of the exhibit, film footage from the 1920s titled “Memories of Gasparilla Festivals,” will be shown continuously. This footage is from the private collection of the Howell family and reveals pirate capers and images of early parades. It is narrated by John Boushall III; H.L. Culbreath Jr.; L.G. “Ted” Delavergne Jr.; Jerry E. Fogarty; George B. Howell III; Fred R. Martin III; Mary Alsbrook Smith; and Frances Thomas Toole. Film footage from Joseph V. Reineman describing the life of a pirate on invasion day also will be shown continuously.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10, with discounts of $7 for seniors (65 and older), $7 for students and $5 for children (ages 4 to 12 years old). It is free for those younger than 4.