It’s time to party hearty at the upcoming annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest, and Tampa residents are gearing up for the excitement. The festivities take place on January 25th, 2014, beginning at 10:00 a.m. when the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival welcomes visitors and ending as the last weary pirate gives up the ghost around 10:00 p.m. The activities throughout the day include the exciting Parade of Pirates beginning at 2:00 p.m., the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and the Gasparilla Invasion, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Well over 300,000 people in the Tampa area attend this exhilarating, annual event, and while good times are had by all, it is prudent to pay attention to some simple rules regarding underage drinking, public intoxication and open containers. The Tampa police routinely arrest over 400 participants in the Pirate Fest, as well as handing out scores of tickets for those who ignore the rules. Ignorance of the rules will not get you out of trouble, so keep the following in mind:
- One of the more recent changes to the Gasparilla Parade regards the necessity to stay on the parade route with all beverages. While signs will be posted, they may not be easily visible. Police officers have really tightened enforcement on this particular rule due to complaints from neighbors in surrounding areas. A ticket for a first offense could cost you as much as $75, and the costs can escalate from there. Check out the exact Gasparilla parade route at http://gasparillapiratefest.com/schedule.shtml.
- As you can imagine, large coolers filled with cold beverages are no longer allowed at the Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates. There are simply too many security issues, and nobody wants the fun of the parade marred by a tragic incident. You can drink responsibly at the beer gardens, and the best part is that 100% of the revenues go to local charities, so…enjoy!
- If you are under the age of 21—don’t drink. Of course this rule exists not only during the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, but some young adults may think they can slide by during the pirate festivities. Don’t risk it! Tampa police will be on the lookout for underage drinking, so if you are under 21, stick to sodas and keep your I.D. handy.
- No matter how much fun you are having, remember that this is a family event, and that even if flashing sounds like a good idea—it probably isn’t. Enjoy the festival—with your clothes on!
- Police will be issuing citations for public urination. A multitude of tickets were handed out last year for public urination, so resist the urge to duck into a nearby alley or go behind a tree or bush. Portable toilets can be found throughout the parade route—take advantage of them.
- Avoid bringing any of the prohibited items into the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. These items include cooler, tents, fences, samples or giveaways, vehicles, weapons, illegal drugs, any type of glass containers and Styrofoam cups or containers. Everyone except vendors are also prohibited from advertising or selling products or services during the Pirate Fest.
- It goes without saying that you should never drink and drive, and this is no exception. HART and TECO run throughout the day, with a day pass costing less than $5. It simply isn’t worth it to have an enjoyable day, then end up with a DUI or BUI. Plan your ride home, designate a driver, take public transportation or call a taxi, but don’t drink and drive.
Have fun at the 2014 Gasparilla Pirate Fest and don’t let that fun be marred by any sort of trouble. If you do find yourself at odds with the law, the law firm of Finebloom & Haenel, P.A., is available day and night to take your call and help you out.