Revelers Pack Tampa, Florida, Waterfront for Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Tampa, Florida — Revelers clad in pirate finery packed Tampa’s waterfront this weekend as a flotilla of boats arrived for the city’s annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

Led by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the invading pirates docked to make a final demand for the key to the city. Once ashore, the festivities celebrating their annual invasion included a Saturday afternoon parade through downtown and live music and bead throwing that lasted well into the night.

A fixture nearly every year since 1904, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is named for the mythical pirate Jose Gaspar. There’s not much evidence he actually existed, but according to legend he plundered ships and captured hostages in the Gulf of Mexico from the 1780s until around 1821.

The colorful account of his supposed life first surfaced in the early 1900s in an advertising brochure for the Gasparilla Inn, which was located south of Tampa in Boca Grande at the end of a rail line and in need of an exciting promotion to lure in guests.

Called the “Last of the Buccaneers,” Gaspar’s memory lives on in the name of Tampa Bay’s NFL team.

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