Despite the gray skies and cooler temperatures, tens of thousands of people are flooding into Tampa's Bayshore neighborhoods and downtown Saturday for the annual Gasparilla parade and festival. They may arrive by plane and car, but not by boat: the new Cross Bay Ferry service from St. Petersburg to Tampa will not run Saturday.
Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn said the large number of boats near the dock and a lack of planning left the ferry with no place to let passengers off.
"We're not going to allow it to interfere with Gasparilla, it's not compatible on Gasparilla day at the Convention Center,” Buckhorn said. “It's just at the last minute, nobody who is in a position to control this had thought about it.”
Buckhorn is confident that those problems will be eliminated for next year's Gasparilla.
"I think next year, this will be better: with some pre-planning, they'll be able to get this accomplished.”
Huge crowds are expected Saturday at the Gasparilla parade (see parade route map) in downtown Tampa and Bayshore Boulevard.
While Tampa officials are welcoming pirates of all ages to the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion on Saturday, they are trying to make sure those under the age of 21 aren't drinking alcohol.
Hillsborough Schools superintendent Jeff Eakins sent a phone message Thursday night to parents saying the district and city are trying to curb underage drinking at the parade that's attending by hundreds of thousands and infamous for intoxication.
“Law enforcement will be visiting our schools to talk about appropriate behavior at Gasparilla,” Eakins said.
Buckhorn joined Eakins on that call, hoping to hammer home that the city is serious.
"Police will be cracking down and there is a zero-tolerance policy in place,” Buckhorn said. “The number one rule: No drinking if you are under 21."
The official Gasparilla Parade of Pirates starts at 2 p.m. on Bayshore Boulevard. (See schedule of events here).
The Florida Department of Transportation encourages travelers to use the 511 Traveler Information System before hitting the road to stay up-to-date on crashes, congestion and construction along their route. The 511 system provides information on all of Florida’s interstates, toll roads and other major metropolitan roadways, including those traveling near Gasparilla Pirate Fest.
Street Closure Schedule
Monday, Jan. 16 – Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
Median Closures at DeSoto Ave, Nance Ave, Albany Ave & Gunby Ave at Bayshore Blvd
Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 @ 10 p.m.
Bayshore Blvd. from Gandy Blvd. to Platt St.
Bay to Bay from Bayshore Blvd. to Ysabella St.
Davis Island Bridge Off Ramp onto NB Bayshore Dr.
Bayshore Blvd. from Brorein St. to Platt St.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 3 a.m.
Platt St/Channelside Dr. from Plant Ave. to Franklin St.
Brorein St. from Florida Ave. to Parker St.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 5:30 a.m.
Crosstown- EB Willow Ave. Off Ramp (Exit 4)
Willow Ave. from Platt St. to Swann Ave. (SB lanes closed only, 1-way NB)
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 7 a.m.
Ashley Dr. from Brorein St. to Jackson St.
Brorein St. from Jefferson St. to Parker St.
Franklin St. from Channelside Dr. to Harbour Island Bridge
Old Water St. from Florida Ave. to Franklin St.
Washington St. from Ashley Dr. to Tampa St.
Whiting St. from Ashley Dr. to Tampa St.
Whiting St. from Florida Ave. to Franklin St. (WB)
Crosstown- EB Morgan Offramp (6B)
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 9 a.m.
Kennedy from Hyde Park Av.e to Ashley Dr. (EB)
Ashley Dr. from Split to Jackson St (Cass and Tyler will remain open @ Ashley for EW Traffic to Poe Garage)
Jackson St. from Ashley Dr. to Tampa St.
Kennedy Blvd. from Florida Ave. to Plant Ave. (WB)
Madison St. from Ashley Dr. to Florida Ave.
Twiggs St. from Ashley Dr. to Florida Ave.
Zack St. from Ashley Dr. to Florida Ave.
Polk St. from Ashley Dr. to Florida Ave.
Cass EB from Blvd. to Doyle Carlton (Poe Garage Exit)
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 11 a.m.
Cass St. from Willow Ave. to N. Blvd.
North A St. from Willow Ave. to Newport Ave.
North B St. from Willow Ave. to Newport Ave.
Fig St. from Willow Ave. to Gilchrist Ave.
Carmen St. from Willow Ave. to Delaware Ave.
Newport Ave. from Cass St. to North A St.
Gilchrist Ave. from Cass St. to Fig St.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 1 p.m.
Cass St from N Blvd to Tampa St
Tyler St from Ashley Dr to Cass St
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 3 p.m.
Bay-to-Bay Blvd from MacDill Ave to Ysabella Ave (EB)
Swann Ave from MacDill Ave to Armenia Ave (EB lanes closed only, 1-way WB)
Platt St at Howard Ave (EB)
Platt St at S Willow (EB)
Platt St at S Blvd (EB)
Willow Ave from Kennedy Blvd to Cleveland St
Willow Ave from Cleveland St to Platt St (SB)
South Blvd from Kennedy Blvd to Cleveland St
South Blvd from Cleveland St to Platt St (SB)
Whiting St from Tampa St to Franklin St
Florida at Kay Dual NBLT
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 @ 4:30 p.m.
Kennedy Blvd at Himes Ave (EB)
Kennedy Blvd at MacDill Ave (EB)
Kennedy Blvd at Howard Ave (EB)
Kennedy Blvd at Willow Ave (EB)
Kennedy Blvd at Blvd (EB)
City of Tampa Parking Information
For access to the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates in South Tampa, consider using the following garages and lots:
Ft Brooke Garage - $10 flat rate and will open at 7 a.m.
Jackson Street Parking Lot - hourly rate of $1.60/hr, with a $9.50 daily maximum and will open at 7 a.m.
Poe Garage –At 9:30 a.m. at a rate of $4 per vehicle entry. Due to the parade route, this garage will be closed from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Customers will not be able to enter or exit this garage until after 6:00 p.m. For those attending the Straz 8 p.m. show, Poe Garage will reopen at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a $6 flat rate paid on entry.
Royal Regional Lot – $10 flat rate and will open at 7 a.m.
Tampa Convention Center Garage - $10 flat rate and will open at 7 a.m.
Twiggs Street Garage - hourly rates of $1.20/hr, with a $7 daily maximum and will open at 7 a.m.
All numbered spaces on Kennedy Blvd. and south of Kennedy Blvd. are enforced up until midnight at the standard hourly rate.
For access to the Amalie Arena in the morning and the evening, consider using the following garages and lots:
The Selmon Expressway Lots - $15 flat rate for the circus
South Regional Garage - $12 flat rate and will be open from 7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. for parade & circus parking. After 10:30 a.m. parking will be restricted to Arena Reserved Parking Passes for the remainder of the day.
For access to downtown and south Tampa from historic Ybor City, consider using the following garages and utilizing HART services:
Centro Ybor and Palm Avenue Garages - will open at 7 a.m at the standard hourly rate. HART park and ride available from both locations.
HART will be offering extra streetcar, bus, and trolley services. For more information about HART service during this special event, please call (813) 254-4278 or visit www.goHART.org.