Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Children’s Parade postponed until April, due to pandemic

The change was made in an effort to promote public safety

click to enlarge Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Children’s Parade postponed until April, due to pandemic
Photo via gasparillatampa/Instagram

Tampa Bay’s annual Gasparilla parade events, which attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees, have been postponed until April.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon, after Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and EventFest say they consulted with healthcare providers, city leaders and event organizers.

"Safety is our most important responsibility," said Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain Peter Lackman. "In the public interest of restricting events that bring large numbers of people to our community, we have made the difficult decision to postpone. We look forward to celebrating with our mateys safely and responsibly this April."

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade has been moved to Saturday, April 10, 2021 and the main parade will take place a week later on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The final event of the parade season, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla’s Outbound Voyage will happen on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Back in October, organizers announced that the Pirate Fest and Children’s Parade were returning at the end of January 2021, and the comment sections on the Instagram posts were disabled after people started complaining that it was irresponsible. 

The change comes after the state has reported over 53,000 new cases in the past week. Mardi Gras parades in 2021 were also canceled this past week in New Orleans. 

Organizers say this isn’t the first time the parade has had to be canceled or postponed in its 107-year history. Adjustments have been made during wartimes or when the city enforced limited public celebrations.

All tickets purchased for Gasparilla will be honored on the new dates. They can be bought at GasparillaTreasures.com.

The parade postponements beg the question: What about the other Gasparilla-related events?

In a text message with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Gasparilla Music Festival (GMF) executive director David Cox pointed out that GMF hadn't even announced 2021 dates yet. The 2020 edition in March was the last music festival to happen in Tampa Bay before lockdown.

"But even in an unusual year such as 2021, our intention as always would be to take place after the Gasparilla Invasion and related festivities. We hope to make an announcement soon along with info about tickets being released," Cox said.

In a phone call with Creative Loafing Tampa, Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) development director Ferdian Japsaid that he and GIFF executive director Monica Varner have decided to delay their late-March event until May. GIFF was one of the first local events to get nixed during the pandemic this year, and Jap said GIFF does not have an exact date for May 2021 quite yet. "Everything is fluid," he added.

In October, the Gasparilla Distance Classic—which hosts several races on Bayshore Boulevard in late February—announced plans to still have an in-person event in 2021.

UPDATED: 11/23/20 3:08 p.m. Updated with news on Gasparilla Music Festival, Gasparilla Distance Classic and Gasparilla International Film Festival.

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