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Gasparilla Parades Postponed Due To Coronavirus Concerns

A pirate ship adorned with brightly colored flags is surrounded by smaller yachts on the river.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and EventFest have announced that they will postpone Tampa's signature 2021 Gasparilla Parades to a later date. This photo is from the 2018 event.

The Gasparilla festivities, which draw hundreds of thousands of people to Tampa every year, were originally scheduled for January and February 2021. They're being moved to April and May.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and EventFest have announced that they will postpone Tampa's 2021 Gasparilla Parades to a later date in the spring.

Organizers say the decision was made after ongoing dialogue with city leaders and health care experts.

The festivities, which draw hundreds of thousands of people every year, were originally scheduled for January and February.

There have been more than 900,000 cases of the coronavirus in Florida since the start of the pandemic, and more than 18,000 deaths. There have been more than 12 million cases of COVID-19 recorded nationally.

The Children's Gasparilla Presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay will now be on Saturday, April 10, 2021, and the Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest is on Saturday, April 17. The closing event, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's Outbound Voyage, will set sail on Friday, May 14.

"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."

In a tweet, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor applauded the decision.

Tickets for Children's Gasparilla and Gasparilla Pirate Fest are on sale at GasparillaTreasures.com. Event tickets purchased for the original dates will be honored for the newly scheduled parades in April.

Ticket holders are not required to take any further action. For questions regarding ticket availability or refund concerns, guests can contact office@eventfest.com .

Organizers say this year's postponement of Gasparilla festivities is not the first in event history. Over the past 107 years, parades were not held for numerous reasons, including when the city had limited public celebrations or during wartime.

"I think that if people feel safe, this might be our biggest parade ever. Because people are done with the corona and they want to get set free on it. So that's what we're hoping is to have a really robust, safe Gasparilla in the tradition that we've always had."

Next year’s event will also commemorate 200 years since the death of Jose Gaspar, the fictional pirate the event is based on.

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