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ARRGGHH! The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza 2017 Is About To Invade!

Arrrgghhh!! We can barely contain ourselves we’re so excited! The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza invades Tampa Bay on Saturday, January 21! This family-friendly event is one of our favorite Tampa traditions. From the Bike Safety Rodeo to the Piratechnic Extravaganza, it’s a day your family will never forget. Check out our complete guide to help you and your little pirates navigate the big day.

McDonald’s Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza 2017 Event Schedule: Saturday, Jan. 21

Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Rodeo. Photo credit: Event Fest

Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Rodeo: 11a.m.-1 p.m. at Bayshore Boulevard and S. Rome Avenue
The Tampa Police Department’s Bicycle Unit is taking over this annual event in partnership with OnBikes to provide kids with a unique and fun experience to learn how to safely ride a bicycle and cross streets. Kids can give the obstacle course a try and even get fitted for a FREE helmet while supplies last. Helmets are being donated by the Tampa Police Department.

Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll. Photo credit: Event Fest

Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll: 1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m. at Bayshore Boulevard and S. Howard Avenue

This is the perfect opportunity for children 5 and under to experience what it’s like to strut down Bayshore Boulevard in their best pirate attire! It’s also a chance for parents and kids to show off their creativity with their decorated wagons, bicycles and strollers. The Preschooler’s Stroll steps off at Howard Avenue and ends at Rome Avenue. You must register to take part in this event by Jan. 6. Learn more by visiting To watch, all you have to do is show up!

Gasparilla Air Invasion and SOCOM Day Jump: 2:45 p.m.-3:15 p.m. at Bayshore Boulevard

The kids will be in awe as they watch the United States Special Operations Jump Team, The Para-Commandos, make a precision parachute jump!

Gasparilla Children’s Parade. Photo credit: Event Fest

Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Driven by Chevrolet: 3:30 p.m.-6 p.m.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of more than 100 krewe floats, marching bands, dance units, schools and more! The parade steps off at Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevard and continues north, ending at Edison Avenue.

Gasparilla Air Invasion and SOCOM Night Jump: 6:15 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
The United States Special Operations Para-Commandos will dazzle the crowd once again!

“Piratechnic” Extravaganza, Presented by McDonald’s: 7 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Don’t miss out on this epic imaginary sea battle between the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa in a “Piratechnic” display that will entertain kids and adults of all ages. The pirates will prevail, setting the stage for the Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of Pirates on Jan. 28!

Learn more:

Parking: Don’t get towed! Street parking in the neighborhoods near the parade route is strictly prohibited. The downtown Tampa parking garages will have a one-time special event rate to park. The event shuttle will operate continuously from downtown Tampa to the parade route. The cost is $10 per adult. Children ride for FREE with accompanying adult. There are some areas near the route where local businesses and private citizens charge for parking during the event.

Buy Your 2017 Reserved Tickets Early and Save:
You may purchase bleacher seat tickets for $35, plus tax up until January 13. Prices will then go up to $50, plus tax. First-Mate front-row chair seating tickets are $50, plus tax until January 13 and will go up to $60, plus tax, after that date.

Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza. Photo credit: Event Fest

Celebrate in Style:
If you really want to celebrate in style, consider a Hospitality Ticket which includes a reserved bleacher seat in a private area with pre-parade entertainment, a picnic style buffet lunch and additional snacks and treats. Adult tickets are $125 plus tax, until Jan. 13. The price will jump to $140 plus tax after that date. Children’s tickets are $85 plus tax up until Jan. 13 and will go to $100 plus tax beginning Jan. 14. Children 3 and under do not need a ticket.

Not able to attend the event?  FOX 13 will broadcast the event live and even live stream the parade on

Navigate Parade Day with Tips from the Pros!

January Guest Editor Jennifer Burby
January Guest Editor Jennifer Burby

“Load the kids in a red wagon with blankets and snacks (minimal beverages for obvious reasons) and watch the parade in a location along Bayshore where you can make an easy exit, if necessary.”  -Jennifer Burby, TBPM January Guest Editor

“Review the Gasparilla schedule online in advance to determine which events you’d like to attend. If you only want to see the main parade, it’s ok to arrive a little later as some families arrive early and tire quickly. With younger children, pulling a decorated wagon was a lifesaver when they got too tired to walk!” –Lisa-Marie Leihy, TBPM Social Mom

“Bring food, water, sunscreen and money. A soft cooler of snacks is a great idea. Also, if you get there early, it’s less crowded on the water side of Bayshore Boulevard.” -Mandi Mella, TBPM Social Mom

“Consider purchasing First-Mate tickets for the family, especially if you have big strollers. The front row seating not only puts you in front of the action, but you also have plenty of room to park your stroller or wagon behind your seats.” -Laura Byrne, TBPM Creative Director

Fun Facts: 


c016103“The first Children’s Parade was held in 1947. It was held primarily on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa.”

“The Children’s Parade moved to Bayshore Boulevard in 2002.”credit-state-archives-of-florida

“About 100,000 people attend the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza every year!”

“There’s debate about when Krewes began throwing beads, but the tradition is believed to have started around the late 70’s to early 80’s.”

Historical images provided by State Archives of Florida.



Get Your Pirate Swag from our Favorite Spot, South Tampa Trading Company!

The South Tampa Trading Company located at 1916 S. Dale Mabry Highway pretty much covers all of your Gasparilla needs, from custom-made costumes, hard-to-find ostrich feathers in every color, kids gear, beads, jewelry and so much more. Why we love it: The store gathers products from 32 small business owners from Tampa Bay!




Don’t forget about Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Jan. 28!

2017’s expanded Pirate Fest will feature several stages of live music and entertainment along the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa and at Curtis Hixon Park. The festivities will be ongoing from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

The Gasparilla Invasion begins at 11:30 a.m. with the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship and its flotilla of hundreds of boats making their way from Hillsborough Bay up through Seddon Channel to capture the city. This is a spectacular event the kids will love to experience. The best view is from the Invasion Brunch at the Tampa Convention Center. Tickets start at $78 plus tax for children ages 3-12 and $98 plus tax for adults. Prices go up on Jan. 21.

The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates follows the invasion at 2 p.m., stepping off at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. Get all the details at


Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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