There are several reasons why I've stopped attending Gasparilla: the atrocious traffic and insufferable parking situation; the publicly drunken, bead-diving masses; the pirate-clad Krewes that pay big bucks to ride around on fancy floats and throw beads for people performing all manner of obnoxious feats; and the general public indecency (peeing in the bushes of Bayshore neighborhoods is not a rite of passage, and neither is flashing your boobies to get the best booty).
But there are 150,000 Bay area folks who still enjoy the madness, and I don't want to rain on their parade, so for the sake of objectivity, I've provided the detailed schedule below.
The Gasparilla Invasion
The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. Sat., Jan. 27, when the cannon-firing Jose Gasparilla — a fully-rigged pirate ship — invades Hillsborough Bay with a multitude of pleasure crafts in hot pursuit. The flotilla makes its way across the bay and into Seddon Channel (towards downtown Tampa), docks at the Tampa Convention Center at 1 p.m., and the Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla claims the key to the City of Tampa shortly after.
Gasparilla Invasion Brunch
Fest attendees interested in claiming the best view of the invasion are invited to the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, which includes reserved seating along the Riverwalk as well as a buffet brunch, cash bar and live entertainment. 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa, $49 adults/$39 ages 3-12; children two and younger are admitted for free.
Gasparilla Parade of Pirates
After invading Tampa, Ye Mystic Krewe pirates join the Gasparilla Parade of 90 colorful floats, 14 marching bands and 50 other participating Krewes; all toss a wealth of beads and coins to the crowd situated along the 4-mile parade route. The route begins at the intersection of Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards, moves north on Bayshore into downtown Tampa, turns east on the Platt Street Bridge, continues east on Channelside Drive, turns north on Florida Avenue to Jackson Street, then turns east on Jackson, disbanding at Jackson and Marion streets. 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m., free admission ($24 reserved bleacher seating).
Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival
Throughout the day, downtown Tampa plays host to a street festival along Florida Avenue from Kennedy Boulevard to Channelside Drive. The merriment — tons of food vendors, live music and a Gasparilla Midway of games, rides and amusements — begins prior to the invasion and continues long after the parade concludes. The following is a schedule of performers:
Gasparilla Invasion Stage
Bayshore Boulevard and Platt Street (Publix parking lot)
10 a.m. Acquiesce
11:30 a.m. Basic Rock Outfit
1 p.m. Rhythm Method
5:30 p.m. Pride, the U.S. Navy Rock Band
Gasparilla Pirate Fest Stage
Florida Avenue and Brorein Street
10:30 a.m. Burn Theory
12:30 p.m. Transera
1:30 p.m. Weszt
5:45 p.m. Highway to Hell
7:45 p.m. Drowning Pool
9:15 p.m. Days of the New
Gasparilla City Center Stage
Florida Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard
For more info, visit GasparillaPirateFest.com or call 813-353-8108.