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Ahoy matey! It’s that time of year again, when people from all over the world come together to celebrate the legacy of Jose Gaspar in our beloved Tampa Bay.

When it comes to Gasparilla, you can never be too prepared, every year brings new experiences.

Here are a few things you need to know before you go…

Transportation is limited, but available!

Traveling to and from one location to the next can be challenging during Gasparilla. A number of streets are closed and the bus route’s schedule is affected during the celebrations. Take a look at the HART and the TECO Streetcar System for insight on how to get around town.

If you decide to drive, there are limited options for travel and parking. It will also be very difficult to leave at any point during the day as the events unfold, and crowds thicken. However, it is possible! This map indicates available parking and accessible routes.

The Invasion and Parade of Pirates are Two Different Things…

As newcomers experience Gasparilla for the first time, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the day’s schedule.

The day starts with an invasion at 11:30 AM with the Jose Gasparilla setting sail down the Bay. Your best bet to view this epic introduction is to grab a spot on the Riverwalk, by the Tampa Convention Center, or on Harbour Island at one of the cool restaurants. Once the ship is docked, and Mayor Castor surrenders the key to the city, the Parade of Pirates begins!

The annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year and is known for being one of the biggest parades in the nation. To view the floats and get in on the action, you’ll want to find a spot along Bayshore Blvd. The floats begin their journey down Bayshore at 2:00 PM and complete their route in downtown Tampa by Curtis Hixon Park. Take a look at this map to see the parade route.

Cruisin’ and Boozin’? Bad Idea!

One of the cool things about Gasparilla is that individuals can participate in the events by land or sea. Many Tampa residents take their boats out on the bay to view the celebrations like a true pirate – from the water! If you’re driving a boat, have fun, but do not consume alcohol. Not only is it unsafe, it’s also illegal. There is such a thing as a “BUI” or “Boating Under the Influence,” which can result in arrests, fines, and even jail time.

Alcohol Consumption by the Parade

As far as consuming alcohol on land, the city has designated areas called ‘wet zones’ by the parade. In these wet zones, parade goers who are 21 and up can consume alcohol in open containers – which means you can enjoy your drink as you walk along the route, watching the floats, and visiting street vendors. The red areas highlighted on this map represent the wet zones.

Reminders & DO’s and DON’T’s

Remember, due to the overwhelming number of people attending Gasparilla, rideshare options will be limited and likely have inflated fees. Plan accordingly! Additionally, the weather is something to consider if you’re planning to be outside all day. Between the potential sun, rain, or cold, it’s important to dress appropriately and wear sun protectant.

  • DO bring a bag with the essentials, such as your phone, wallet, keys, etc.
  • DON’T bring coolers, kegs, glass containers, weapons, or pets.
  • DO report dangerous behavior. If you see something, say something – the Tampa Police Department has set up an anonymous tip line for reporting potential dangers to the public via text. Simply text “SAFETAMPA” to 847411 along with any relevant information.
  • DON’T consume alcohol if you’re driving a vehicle – whether a boat, car, or scooter – your safety is important, and so is the safety of those around you. Law enforcement will be actively monitoring all aspects of the events to keep everyone as safe as possible.
  • DO have a meeting place with your friends/family/group and make sure everyone is aware of the location meeting place.
  • DON’T fly solo. An event this big can be overwhelming and it’s easy to lose track of your group. Avoid going anywhere alone.
  • DO stay in the know. For event updates, text GASPARILLA to 888-777 to have information sent directly to your phone.
  • DON’T ignore the events rules or recommendations from law enforcement.
  • DO catch lots of beads by the parade route!
  • DON’T throw beads into the bay. Tampa strives to have a “bead-free bay!”

Above all, HAVE FUN!

If you or someone you know experiences a personal injury at Gasparilla, please contact the attorneys at Ligori & Ligori by dialing (888) 254-7119.

Photo by Sandra Rodriguez https://www.sandrarodriguezphoto.com

Posted on behalf of Ligori & Ligori Attorneys at Law

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