The pirate ship José Gasparilla arrives at Channelside in downtown Tampa to start the annual invasion
Thousands of people showed up for the annual Gasparilla celebration on Bayshore Boulevard and downtown Tampa. The weather was sunny and dry and perfect for a parade. Gasparilla, named after a legendary pirate who reportedly terrorized Western Florida in the late 1700s, is the largest street party of the year in Tampa.
Hundreds of Gasparilla revelers and pirates prepare at the Tampa Yacht Club early Saturday morning for the parade.
Members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla start in the early morning at the Tampa Yacht Club. It's where they get their makeup applied by professional stylists and schmooze with some of the power brokers from the city and state. On Saturday Gov. Rick Scott, Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn were in attendance. There is lots of food and alcohol to get the party started. From that point they board the pirate ship the José Gasparilla and sail across Hillsborough Bay and down Seddon Channel surrounded by a flotilla of private boats. Upon the ship's arrival at Channelside, the mayor surrenders the key to the city and the invasion begins.
Gov. Rick Scott and Mayor Bob Buckhorn greet each other at the Tampa Yacht Club prior to the beginning of the Gasparilla invasion in 2013
The invasion parade route runs along Bayshore Boulevard and into downtown Tampa. It is lined with partiers from all walks of life and all ages.
Pirate Shane Warren gives out some big beads along the parade route.
Beads rule the day! There are many tactics for obtaining the strings of shiny trinkets from the dozens of krewes and organizations. See more pictures ...
"It's my birthday!" shouted Lacy Mahon who had a unique strategy for getting beads. Holding up her driver's license, she invited bead throwers to give her a birthday gift.
Signs are also a common tactic for getting beads. Offering free kisses and claiming to be bad girls obviously worked.
Willie Ketchum shows off his big blue beads to the delight of paradegoers.
Much of the parade route was lined with steel barriers that enabled marchers and bead seekers to interact.
However, the median enhancements that were part of the RNC Bayshore beautification program were cordoned off, and separated the crowd from those marching. There was noticeably less bead-throwing over these sections of the parade.
City officials also decided to use the security cameras that were acquired before the RNC to watch crowds at the parade. Here is one stationed along Bayshore Boulevard on the parade route
87-year-old Bunny Borthwick-Nadzam loves Gasparilla for its fun and benefit to the city.
Boob stamping, instead of flashing for beads, was common this year. Here a pirate uses a rubber stamp to temporarily tattoo an elated paradegoer.
A group of men from New York City, all dressed in bird suits, claimed to have been confused about the celebration. The leader of the group said they had heard it was a parrot festival, not a pirate festival! They drank a lot nonetheless.
Cigar-smoking pirates are a big part of the celebration..
The parade ended late in the afternoon along Bayshore Boulevard. As the crowd dispersed, parade trash littered the streets, sidewalks, and yards along Bayshore Boulevard.
Yep, Spidey was out after the parade, perhaps to help clean up some of the tons of trash left behind.
As sunset fell and the mass cleanup began, it was evident that some of the day's revelry was destructive. This ATM on Bayshore Boulevard will be in the shop for a while. No, no money was left on the ground.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, there were nearly 70 arrests and 131 alcohol citations. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office processed some of those arrested in the Publix parking lot just off of Bayshore Boulevard after the parade.
The annual Gasparilla season continues in two weeks with the The Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago Knight Parade in Ybor City on Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.