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Tampa mayor rebuffs Gasparilla pirates’ demand for key to city

Published: January 21, 2014 Updated: January 21, 2014 at 07:21 PM
The Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, accompanied by an elite corps of his finest mates, visited downtown Tampa. They were accompanied by the customary theatrical noise props of guns and cannons to "discuss" with Mayor Bob Buckhorn the advantages in surrendering the City of Tampa in advance of Saturday´s historic Gasparilla Invasion. JIM REED/STAFF

TAMPA — Over the boom of cannons and the wail of police sirens, the shouts of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates echoed through downtown Tuesday afternoon.

A shipload of men “sailed” to Gaslight Square Park shortly after noon, tossing out treasured Gasparilla beads and demanding Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn come out of City Hall and face them.

“Where’s the mayor?” they shouted. “We want the key!”

Every year before the annual Gasparilla invasion, a small contingency of pirates from the Krewe demand the key to the city from Tampa’s mayor. And every year since he has held the title, Buckhorn has refused them.

“Ye Mystic Krewe of Cowardly Lions, you are not going to get this key,” the mayor told the captain in front of a small crowd that gathered to watch the negotiations.

But Capt. Jim Von Thron told the mayor he won’t be able to keep the key from them for long. The pirates will return for it this weekend.

“On Saturday, I’m coming back with a much bigger crew,” Von Thron said. “You can’t handle Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.”

The famed Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of Pirates will take place beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

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— Elizabeth Behrman, Tribune staff