Gasparilla? What is it and why is it a Tampa Bay thing?

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To some locals, you aren’t a true “Tampanian” until you experience your first Gasparilla and all that it entails! To understand Gasparilla, you need Gasparilla info – and you've come to the right place!  The name, Gasparilla originates from legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, known as the last of the Buccaneers. He wreaked havoc on the West coast of Florida during the 18th and 19th century until his death, leaving behind nothing but a mysterious buried treasure that has never been unearthed.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla

Here's the next (peg) leg on your quest for Gasparilla info – from this water warrior, spawned the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in 1904. Beginning with Louise Francis Dodge of the Tampa Tribune and George W. Hardee of the federal government, the pair longed to promote Tampa Bay. Dodge and Hardee, along with around forty other members, planned to surprise the Bay Area with a mock pirate invasion in full costume on May 4th, 1904. Since then, Tampa has celebrated Gasparilla annually, on the second Monday in February until 1988 when the date changed to the ever-more convenient Saturday during the month of January.  Got enough Gasparilla info yet?

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The Ship

During the 1911 pirate invasion, a ship was used by the YMKG, but one was not owned by the group until 1937. The vessel was rightfully named “The Jose Gasparilla I”. Almost twenty years later, in 1954, YKMG began building the world’s only fully capable pirate ship named “The Jose Gasparilla II”. The completion of the ship marked the 50 year anniversary of the first pirate invasion and the dawn of YMKG. The ship is a replica of a West Indiaman, a merchantman sailing ship from the 18th century. The ship is 165 feet long by 35 feet across the beam with three masts boasting 100 feet each.

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Heading into Tampa for the Invasion? Need a place to Stay? —> Best Tampa Hotels for Gasparilla Weekend

Get Invasion Gasparilla Info!

Get Invasion Gasparilla Info! One of the most highly anticipated events of the new year is the Invasion. On Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m., the Jose Gasparilla will appear south on the Hillsborough Bay with pushback from local vessels defending the bay. Once the vessels realize their grave error, they will join the Captain and the Krewe and make their way north. The ships travel across Hillsborough Bay into the Seddon Channel between Davis and Harbor Islands. Once docked at the Tampa Convention Center at 1 p.m., the Mayor will surrender the keys to the city into the hands of the Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. The captain then launches a victory celebration in the Parade of Pirates down beautiful Bayshore Boulevard.

Gasparilla 2021
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Want to get started early? Kick off the morning with Brunch before the invasion.

Gasparilla Parade of Pirates

Following the Invasion, is the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates. Share the wealth with the swash-bucklers while they toss beads and treasures. Enjoy the celebration alongside the pirates as they make their way down Bayshore Boulevard into downtown while in colorful costumes. The Parade boasts over 140 units including 103+ floats, 5+ marching bands, 50+ Krewes, and the YMKG pirates! Ye who dares to attend the invasion and parade are encouraged to dress up as pirates and join in the celebration!

Gasparilla Tampa Bay
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Wondering where the best place is to watch the parade? Here is our recommendation —> Where to Watch? Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates

Krewe of the Knights of Sant ‘Yago Illuminated Knight Parade

On February 8th at 6:30 p.m., the Knight Parade will take place in Ybor City. The Knight Parade will head down 7th Ave to 22nd St. Beginning in 1972, the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’Yago dedicated their mission to preserving and enhancing Tampa Bay’s Latin heritage. This Krewe is comprised of 250 men and is led by “El Rey (King) and his La Reina (Queen) as well as her Royal Court of Ladies in Waiting, Courtesans, Pages, Attendants, and a Royal Sword Bearer” (

Looking for more Gasparilla info? Check out Survival Tips for Gasparilla. Also, be sure to check out Sparkman Wharf for more outing ideas.


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