The Girls of Gasparilla

Jose Gaspar in Tampa Bay, 1964

Celebrated annually since 1904, the City of Tampa, Florida has put on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival at the end of every January, a wild spectacle that has become one of the largest and most unique events in the South.

Every year, some 400,000 people line the streets of Bayshore Blvd. to watch various wildly dressed “Krewes” parade through the city streets and throw beads, coins, and trinkets while firing off pistols and cannons.

The highlight of the parade is the initial “invasion” of the city, led by the 165 foot replica pirate ship, Jose Gaspar. The Gaspar is helmed by the men of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), the original founders of the parade, and the most prestigious of Tampa’s many krewes.  Once the mayor presents the Captain of the invading buccaneers with the Key to the City, the pirates disembark, and the parade commences.

Many happy years of my childhood were spent on the sides of the Bayshore watching the parade, and as all who have recently been can attest, Gasparilla has lost little of its original fun and excitement.

YMKG Pirate with Girls, 1967

Young Women on Jose Gaspar, 1968

Onboard the Jose Gaspar, 1976

Gasparilla, 1967

Ahoy! 1967

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Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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