TAMPA, Fla. -
The long-anticipated invasion is here. On Saturday, Bay Area residents donned their pirate outfits and headed out to Bayshore Boulevard to load up on loot. While the forecast is calling for some cold temperatures, that hasn’t dulled the excitement of welcoming back one of Tampa‘s most treasured traditions.
Last year, all Gasparilla events were canceled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the festivities are back, but it’s going to be a cold return. With wind gusts and a rough chop forecast for Tampa Bay, Tampa police are encouraging residents to watch the invasion from land instead of from the water, as conditions will be rough.
Ye Mystic Krewe did tell FOX 13 that right now weather is not affecting their plans, but they do have a backup plan in place if need be.
Regardless of whatever the weather Saturday brings, Tampa residents are just excited to see pirates invading the city once again.
"I'm a Tampa native and it's our tradition. You can't miss it," said Kendall Trosky. "It was very sad not to have it last year."
Nevertheless, just like residents are excited for Gasparilla, so are local business owners. They say the return of all the festivities has done a lot to revive their businesses that struggled through last year. The owner of South Tampa Trading Company says she’s made over 100 pirate costumes over the past few weeks.
"That’s the reason I got into this business was I really enjoy parades and everything that’s associated with it. And it was really tough last year to not have that sparkle and excitement," said Anne Bartlett, the owner of South Tampa Trading Company.
Buccaneer Beads in Tampa also said their business has been booming as they’ve seen over double the orders that they would typically see at this time any other year.
The Jose Gasparilla will start the invasion at 11:30 a.m., with the parade taking off at 2 p.m. The parade begins at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It continues along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein Street, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends at Cass Street & Ashley Drive.