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State Library & Archives of Florida

The annual Gasparilla celebration is one of Tampa Bay’s biggest social events, drawing in hundreds of thousands of people to dress up as pirates and eat, drink and be merry.

Though people dressing up in costumes and “invading” the city may seem like silly fun, the tradition has also played an important role in Tampa’s high society.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

When the famous and infamous Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates invades Tampa on Saturday, Jan. 31, it will be the 100th such procession along Bayshore Boulevard and the streets of downtown Tampa.

On Florida Matters Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., we take a look at this year's invasion, and the history of this curious event. Our guests are Sgt. Jarrett Seal of the Tampa Police Department, and Shamus Warren, a pirate with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

USF Library

UPDATE 9 a.m. 1/27: Andy Huse will give an encore presentation of  "Tampa's Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Pirates and Gangsters" Tuesday, January 28, at noon in the USF Tampa Library's Grace Allen Room.

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ORIGINAL POST 3:45 p.m. 1/22: If you hear the phrase "Tampa outlaw" and think of the pirate José Gaspar or the gangsters Santo Trafficante, Sr., and his son, Santo Jr., Andy Huse would like you to think again.

The USF Special Collections librarian says that there's been other far more colorful renegades in Tampa's past that people don't know a lot about - and he'll talk about them Thursday night when he presents "Tampa's Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Pirates and Gangsters" at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in downtown Tampa.