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Gasparilla pirate celebrations are returning to Tampa in 2022. Here’s what you need to know

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Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
The Gasparilla Pirate Fest returns to Tampa in 2022 after it was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Get ready for the Gasparilla children's parade and annual pirate invasion the following week with parade routes, viewing locations, and event schedules.

UPDATE: The Tampa Police Department is urging boaters who plan to take part in Saturday's Gasparilla flotilla to use caution. The National Weather Service has issued a small craft advisory from Friday at 10 p.m. until Saturday at 7 p.m. as a cold front moves through the region. The department warns that inexperienced boaters — especially those operating small vessels — should AVOID navigating in hazardous conditions.

Tampa Bay’s Gasparilla Pirate Festival is returning after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A tradition since 1904, thousands of people travel to downtown Tampa annually to re-enact the history of Jose Gaspar, a pirate known for terrorizing the coastal waters along Florida’s west coast in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

This year, the festival is back. But due to the rise in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant, Mayor Jane Castor wants to remind residents that the events can still be safe, as long as they take precautions and understand their level of personal responsibility.

The festival will begin on Jan. 22 with the children’s gasparilla and will include various events before the pirate invasion on Jan 29.

Children’s Gasparilla Parade

The 2022 Children’s Gasparilla parade will include a bicycle and pedestrian rodeo, the Gasparilla Air Invasion with a day and night jump, the Preschooler Stroll, a firework finale, and the famous Children’s Gasparilla Parade. The specific event times and locations can be found here.

It is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event and the famous parade showcases a series of parade floats, marching bands, dance units, and community groups that will march along the same route as the Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates.

It begins at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 22. It will feature a 1.5-mile route along Bayshore Boulevard from Bay to Bay Boulevard and moving north to Edison Avenue.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

The following weekend, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest will begin with the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch at 10 a.m. at the Tampa Convention Center - tickets can be purchased for $140.

Later, the Gasparilla Invasion will begin at 11:30 a.m. with the re-enactment of Tampa’s pirate invasion. At noon, the Mayor’s Raid will begin at Lykes Gaslight Park and the Pirate Invasion will end when the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship – and the flotilla of boats following it – dock at the Tampa Convention Center at 1 p.m.

The Parade of Pirates will begin at 2 p.m. as the pirates make their way on land to walk the 4.5-mile parade route(insert photo of parade route?). It start at Bay to Bay Boulevard and continues along Bayshore Boulevard.

Throughout the day, live music at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park will feature pre- and post-parade live entertainment for the Parade of Pirates, from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Alcoholic beverages can be consumed at the pirate fest. However, there are designated “Wet Zones” for legal alcohol consumption located along the parade route.

Parking

Parking for both parades will be available at the Tampa Convention Center or throughout downtown. However, parking fills up quickly and pre-paid parking is highly recommended.

ADA Accessible Parking can be found at the Fort Brooke Garage on Whiting Street. An Accessible Viewing area will also be located at the corner of Whiting Street and Ashley Street on the southeast side of Ashley.

Transportation

Extra streetcar and bus services will also be offered and facemasks will be required. Parade goers can ride free on the TECO Line Streetcar with continuous service from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. between Ybor and Downtown Tampa. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority will also offer transportation to Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa with a $4 all-day pass.

Cost

The events are free to attend. However, reserved seating can be purchased for specific events and along the parade routes.

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