The history of piracy is far from the experience of Gasparilla – but that's OK

Beads, feathers, comfortable shoes and fresh whiskey – all easy to find at the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade

If pirates in the 1700s had those things, their lives would have been a lot better.

Instead, they had filth, disease, and rough seas.

"You see the water, and [you think], 'Oh, it's beautiful,'" said University of Central Florida history professor Dr. David Head. "Well, no, the water is trying to kill you in every direction."

Pirate historian Jeremy Moss says the pirate garb we see today was fashioned by Hollywood. Back in the real days of pirates, there were few joyful faces and even fewer sparkling beads, but plenty of stenches from waste and rotten food.

"It was cold or very hot. It was always wet. Constantly salty," said Moss. "The real outfits pirates would have would be hard-wearing and practical. Short jackets, checked shirts, long canvas trousers."

Head says the modern interpretation of pirate-wear is also grounded in art from 1880s children's books. Some, in real life, did dress flamboyantly, but only after pillaging someone else's possessions.

"They would take clothing and valuable cloth and things like that, silks, muslins and calicoes off of the ships that they captured," said Head.

Pirates were at their peak between the 1680s and 1730s, and didn't come to waters around Florida until later, when ones from England, France, Spain and the Netherlands hijacked opposing trade ships in the Caribbean.

MORE: Locals, businesses and pirates ready for return of Gasparilla parade

"They had battles. They had fights, either by cannon or up close, with swords and pistols," said Moss. "There are tons and tons of historical records about torture."

A lot has changed since the golden age of pirates, so much so that maybe those who attend the Gasparilla festivities may say this is the real golden age.

"It is just the character that appeals to some people," said Head. "Pirates have always had a devil may care attitude. This ideal of freedom."

The best news of all: everyone at this weekend's parade can remember the last time they had a shower.