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Gasparilla: Your Map to Parade Day Treasure

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the greatest Tampa holiday is upon us: the day when we are woken at sunrise by the sound of pistols and cannons, when eye patches and parrots become accessories and our Tampa Bay becomes something out of Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” Among all the pirate hype and treasure excitement, it seems most forget or don’t think about how to actually navigate the sea that is Bayshore come parade day.

Related: The Ultimate Gasparilla Guide

The Gasparilla Children’s Parade is Saturday, January 19, 2019. It kicks off with special events along Bayshore at 11am, including our favorite..the Bicycle Safety Rodeo. The parade steps off at Bayshore and Bay to Bay at 3:30pm and ends with a spectacular fireworks display from 7:00 pm-7:30 pm. Learn more here.

The better for adults party, Gasparilla Pirate Fest is Saturday, January 26, 2019 from 9 am-9 pm. The parade steps off at Bayshore and Bay to Bay at 2 pm, but the fun continues all night long! Learn more here.

Related: Gasparilla Children’s Parade: Local Parents Share Pro Tips

Well, here’s a strategic map for BOTH parades to ensure you get the best experience of any attendee. 

  • Most people don’t think of this, but you should have a get-away car parked in the parade vicinity the night before. This way, you can easily have access to your ride, as driving services will be slow and expensive that day. 
  • Much like on game day, some people go prior to the parade to stake out a plot for their crew. Or you can just send someone early to get a spot right up front with a large blanket. Do not under estimate the crowd, it gets big and fast. You can purchase bleacher seats online ahead of time (strongly recommend). 
  • Bring some cash for vendors. Once your kid sees that inflatable sword or hubby smells the corn dogs, its game over. 
  • Don’t forget the essentials: a cooler, a blanket, sunscreen, chairs and large blanket for your parade space. Secret arsenal items to include: toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Port-a-potties are available but this way you feel a little cleaner when nature calls. 
  • If you want to get more beads, make a sign ahead of time, highlighting your favorite Krewe or even college. They love seeing these and are sure to throw you a ton of beads in appreciation. 
  • Specific to the Children’s parade, be sure to stick around after the parade for one of the best firework shows in Tampa you have ever seen; it typically starts about 7 p.m. 
  • Also remember the Kids parade is an alcohol-free event. 
  • Probably the biggest miscalculation we see every year with both parades is attendees waiting south of Bay to Bay to try and get beads. A major rule we must follow is that we are not permitted to throw ANY beads before crossing Bay to Bay.  
  • Also, if you are close to the barricade, please DO NOT reach over and grab something off of a participant. You wouldn’t think so, but this does happen and we want to avoid people getting hurt. 
  • If all else fails, remember to be nice and say thank you. Sometimes we forget the parades are made up of volunteers that give their own time to make sure the magic of Jose Gaspar lives on for all of Tampa Bay.
By Carlee Bowdoin, creator of the blog

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.




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