Ybor Naval Battle Clears Way For Gasparilla Invasion
TAMPA - The brigands loyal to the mayor of Ybor City cleared the way Sunday for pirates to invade next week with volleys of stale Cuban bread and blasts from water cannons. The ceremonial battle, dubbed the Ybor City Naval Invasion, has been part of Gasparilla since 1954. After a wet hour that littered Garrison Channel with chunks of bread and left most participants soaked, a ceremonial truce was reached. The tradition goes something like this, according to Sandra Morgado, this year's honorary Ybor City mayor: Pirates hire the mayor of Ybor City and a flotilla to get the navy out of the way for the invasion while the navy and Tampa try to fight off the Ybor City forces.Meanwhile, the Tampa Fire Department is supposed to help defend Tampa but gets paid off by Ybor City and turns on Tampa. Get it? This year, the forces of Tampa and the navy were stationed aboard the SS American Victory, armed with washtubs full of Cuban bread and a fire hose or two. A pair of tugboats and a city fire boat represented the Ybor City attackers. Others in pleasure craft seemed to have loose alliances and did battle with anyone in range. "It's a Tampa tradition," said Scott Sims, who's defended Tampa three of the past four years.
Reporter Neil Johnson can be reached at (813) 259-7731.
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