Growing up in Tampa there was a special time of year when pirates would invade the city shore and throw their loot of beaded necklaces and gold coins to hundreds of thousands of attendees! You could imagine as a child this was a blast, so much so that I had to relive my childhood and attend this years Gasparilla Parade 2023.
We attended the Children’s parade which was held on January 21st. This parade is one of the largest in the country with over a 150 floats which wrapped Bayshore Blvd.
We were fortunate to sit on bleachers provided from one the parade’s sponsors Chick Fil A. These seats were staged at the beginning of the parade. First the Tampa Police kicked it off with an impressive fleet of tactical vehicles which lit the streets followed with the sheriff and his wife throwing beads.
Sponsor Chick Fil A were throwing brownies, cookies and wooden chips good towards free nuggets at participating Tampa Chick Fil A’s. The brownies tasted amazing!!!
Fun music and amazingly decorated pirate floats lined Bayshore. Pirates walked the streets passing their fortunes to the patrons.
In the distance waters you will spot Jose Gaspars pirate ship elaborately decorated in colorful flags.
Before the parade I was hopeful to catch my share of beads and I wasn’t disappointed. Me and my crew were stacked with all sorts of colorful beaded jewelry.
Lastly, the night closed with a banging fireworks display over the bay with a plane shooting fireworks off its wings! I have never seen such a plane!
5 tips before you venture to the parade
We were able to find a local business charging $25 to park in their parking lot. City Parking garages charge anywhere between $5-$20. You can hop on the Free TECO streetcars or for $4 you can ride the Hart ride and park. Taking an Uber may be a great option to avoid parking all together.
All restrooms at the event are port a potties. Bring hand sanitizers and tissues.
Pirate attire is welcomed! Adults and children dress as pirates with scarfs, pirate hats, skull tee shirts and feathers. The weather was overcast and cool so I wore a black skull tee, black jeans and a khaki long cardigan with boots.
It’s a good idea to bring snack and waters especially if you are taking little ones.
Get there early
With over 300,000 people attending it’s a good idea to get there a couple of hours earlier. You would want a great spot up front by the fence to catch the loot!