Here's my account of Saturday's Gasparilla Parade of Pirates. It will run as as a Bar Tab column in the Creative Loafing that hits newsstands Wednesday. Pictures taken at the event by a co-worker should appear here tomorrow.
Pictured left to right: Me, Lola and Lyndsay.
Just another day of debauchery.
There are few things more horrific than being in the midst of 400,000 drunks. Positioned near the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and Willow Avenue Saturday afternoon during the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates, I canât help but think that this might be the closest many of us will ever come to entering a war zone. Itâs chaos on a greater level than I can typically handle. Fortunately, I have achieved a perfectly calibrated buzz: It minimizes my claustrophobia and creates a sense of euphoria that allows me to tolerate the fat, beered-up beast who just bumped into me â again.Tampaâs most depraved annual tradition, the Gasparilla day parade is an event so hedonistic and ugly that it should probably be banished to one of those backwoods clearings up in Zephyrhills where 98Rock formerly threw its equally wanton Livestock orgy â far away from the eyes of polite society.
Instead, for the past century, Tampa civic leaders have marched the swashbuckler-honoring bacchanal right through the cityâs oldest, richest and most venerable neighborhood. And I like that. Thereâs something perversely appealing about witnessing the affluent members of South Tampa subjected to all manners of alcohol-fueled savagery. I also enjoy watching those pillars of the community who embrace the day of debauchery â the prosperous dirty old men who stumble and lurch across their roped-off Bayshore lawns, leer at the young gals in bikini tops walking past, and then when the old lady isnât around, offer the loaded coeds sets of monster-sized beads in exchange for a quick flash of perky boob.
Gasparilla is an outing rife with madness and uncertainties â worsened by the poor cellphone reception most people experience there. Plans are inevitably broken. Groups get separated. Thatâs why you just gotta go with the flow: Attend whatever parties you can, stick with your ride home, and keep plenty of cash for a cab stuffed in sock or bra just in case you find yourself passed out on a strangerâs lawn at 3 a.m.
I also have come to understand after years of Gasparilla-going that if youâre hanging with a large contingent of women â or guys like my pal Sal who refuse to piss in the bushes â a substantial part of the day will be spent seeking out restroom facilities. Thatâs just the way it is.