Pirates rejoice for warmest Gasparilla since 2002

- From first-timers to seasoned veterans, hundreds of thousands of revelers filled downtown Tampa on Saturday for the Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade.

With the warmest weather Gasparilla-goers have seen since 2002 - 78 degrees - and the NHL All-Star Game in town, the crowd was much larger than the chilly 2017 celebration.

"It was very cold last year. You come down here today, it was nice out," said parade-goer Jason Wright. "Everyone's being good. Good vendors, great beer, great people, great beads, good time."

George Mouzon, of New Jersey, was one of many parade spectators who came from out of town after hearing the hype about Gasparilla from his daughter.

"She's been telling me about this event for a number of years, and I came down here to capture it. I've been to Mardi Gras a number of times, but I'm telling you, this is awesome," said Mouzon.

Tampa police said incidents requiring their help were at a minimum. 

An hour after the parade finished, TPD said there was one case of felony battery on a law enforcement officer and 19 misdemeanors, which ranged from underage drinking to disorderly conduct to trespassing.TPD also issued one civil citation for possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana.

As for the Flotilla, FWC says its officers arrested and removed 15 impaired and under the influence boaters Saturday.

The large crowd made parking a difficult task for some. Businesses along MacDill Avenue sold parking spaces for $20.

For those who chose to use Uber to get to the parade, it was an expensive ride getting home.

Parade-goers said surge charges rose to more than $100 around 6:30 p.m. when thousands of people were trying to get home.

More than 300 volunteers with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful will be back out on Bayshore Boulevard at 9 a.m. Sunday to help pick up all the trash and beads left behind.

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