Once again it is time for the much-anticipated, annual 2014 Tampa Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Tampa residents as well as visitors to the area are in for a treat as the events kick off on January 25th, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. If you are new to the area, you may be wondering just what the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is all about. Here’s the scoop:
Who is Gasparilla?
Over half a million people gather in Tampa Florida to celebrate the exploits of the pirate Jose Gaspar, an 18th century Spanish pirate. Although stories about Gaspar abound, it is generally thought that Jose was born in Spain in the 1760’s to an upper-class family. Jose was apparently a ladies man, and this trait got him into some trouble in the Spanish king’s court. The young man eventually ended up at sea where he is said to have vowed revenge against Spain, led a mutiny on a navy vessel and ended up a pirate. Gaspar assumed the name of Gasparilla and spent the next four decades attacking every passing ship along the Florida stratis, amassing treasures for himself in the process.
Some say Gasparilla buried many of those treasures on a small, isolated island. Gasparilla is credited with raiding over 400 ships, and was still living the pirate life well into his sixties when he took the chance to make one last score, taking out after a British merchant ship. As soon as Gasparilla’s pirate ship was within cannon range, the British ship dropped its colors and ran up a United States flag—the “British” ship was the USS Enterprise, fully equipped to take the scurrilous pirate down. Refusing to be captured once the end was in sight, Gasparilla reportedly climbed to the bow of his sip, wrapped the heavy anchor chain around him, and jumped to his death.
Why Do Floridians Celebrate Gasparilla?
It is said that Gasparilla buried a large fortune of literally millions, somewhere on the coast of Florida, and in 1904 the rogue became the patron of the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest. In 1954, the Jose Gaspar was built—the world’s only modern, fully-rigged pirate ship. Those who attend the Gasparilla festivities can expect to see the legendary pirate ship as well as many other tributes to Gasparilla. The day offers a mimic of a “typical” capture made by the Pirate Gasparilla, known as the Gasparilla Invasion.
When the Jose Gaspar ship docks at the Florida Convention Center, the Mayor will hand over the key to the city and the serious partying will begin. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival begins at 10:00 am, lasting until 10:00 p.m. The Gasparilla Invasion Brunch takes place at the Tampa Convention Center from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and requires reservations. The Gasparilla Invasion begins at 11:30 a.m., setting sail at the south end of the Hillsborough Bay, sailing north and ending up at the Convention Center.
Of the more than 300,00 people who will attend the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, the vast majority will have a fun day and a great time that will be remembered for weeks to come. It is important to note that Tampa police will be out in full-force, looking for those who bring alcoholic beverage into the festivities, drive or boat under the influence, violate open contain laws or underage drinking, or duck behind a bush rather than seek out a public toilet (located conveniently along the parade route). We at Finebloom & Haenel, P.A. want you to enjoy your day, however if you find yourself in trouble for drinking or any other criminal activity, give our firm a call, day or night, for fast, experienced assistance.
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