Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla

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.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The crowd that crammed onto Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard and downtown for Gasparilla 2017 on Saturday was estimated between 300,000 and 400,000. There's no estimate yet on the amount of trash the paraders and pirates left in the wake.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The 2016 Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade this past weekend wasn't quite as rowdy as in past years, according to numbers released Monday by the Tampa Police Department.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Gasparilla season continues this weekend with the annual pirate invasion and parade in downtown Tampa on Saturday and a concert Friday evening at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Lottie Watts / WUSF 89.7

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.