When Gasparilla was canceled, Tampa resident Christa Weiss looked to New Orleans for inspiration—mainly from a woman named Megan Bordeaux. Bordeaux organized “Yardi Gras” which resulted in around 3,000 houses decorated as floats, a socially-distanced way for people to still celebrate (this is one such Yardi Gras house).
Taking Bordeaux’s lead, Weiss created “Krewe of Tampa House Floats” which invites people from any neighborhood to decorate their houses like a Gasparilla float. When she caught up with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay by phone, Weiss had about 30 houses involved but more people have claimed interest.
The house floats span the city, with the majority in South Tampa. Davis Island, Dana Shores, Ballast Point, and Weiss’ neighborhood Parkland Estates are also among those participating. But there are folks in Brandon and New Tampa other locations involved—Weiss is welcoming anyone to join in.
“I didn’t want anyone to be excluded,” Weiss told CL.
The self-guided tour will include signs with QR codes at each house for donation options to local charities. Weiss wants to benefit a variety of local charities which are Feeding Tampa Bay, Judeo Chrisitian Clinic, Voices for Children and Life Center of the Suncoast. Through “a couple dollars here, a couple there” Weiss figured she could make an impact.
If you want to decorate your house, Weiss isn’t strict about the timeline. Though the event officially runs from March 13-April 17, people can sign up late and join in whenever they want. Houses can stay decorated for as little or as long as the individual wants, but the longer the more donation opportunities.
Weiss’ house will be decorated in a “pirate chic'' theme, but homes don’t have to be pirate-themed. Other abodes are decorated as “20,021 Leagues Under the Sea,”
“Candyland,” and “Flower Power.” Weiss mainly “...want(s) people to be able to express themselves, and be creative.”
There are only a few rules of participation, mainly keeping the event family friendly and COVID-19 safe. “No vulgarity, no profanity,” Weiss said. Basically, not the time to show off your new boob job for beads, people—save it for never.
The event page also asks participants to, “Please do not display any type of political advertisements or endorsements. However feel free to express current issues through caricatures,.”
While touring the homes, socially distancing and masks are required while also following all other local and national COVID-19 protocols.
Another rule on the event page that is a good reminder for life in general: “Be kind, courteous and treat everyone with respect regardless of their opinions, race, sexual preference…”
And if the event is successful, Weiss hopes to continue the next year with or without a pandemic and with or without Gasparilla.
For more information or a map of the decorated houses go to kreweoftampahousefloats.com.
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