Set Stage for Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
A week before the big Parade of Pirates kicks off an exciting Gasparilla weekend in Tampa, the Children’s Gasparilla Parade will bring an alcohol-free event designed just for kids. The event is the annual Ashley HomeStore Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay on Saturday, Jan. 18. It will include the Gasparilla Air Invasion, the Bicycle Rodeo, a Preschooler’s Stroll and a Gasparilla Children’s Parade, all leading up to a Nighttime Air Invasion and the annual invasion of Tampa by the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Tampa Police Department on bike, the FDOT Tampa and EventFest Inc., will present a Bicycle Rodeo that is free to everyone interested in learning how to ride bicycles safely with traffic. Kids will be fitted with a free, brand new bicycle helmet they can keep (while supplies last) and then use one of the Rodeo’s bicycles to ride through a fun course which teaches skills that one day save their lives. Vendors and children’s activities will open at 11 a.m. from Bay to Bay to Edison along Bayshore Blvd. and will continue throughout the day.
The Gasparilla Air Invasion will begin at 12 noon, back in 2020 and promising its largest airshow yet. Look to the skies to see acts ranging from civilian aerobatic teams to vintage military aircraft to the USSOCOM Parachute Demonstration Team. The show is sure to impress aviation aficionados and novices like. The show will run through the start of the Children’s Gasparilla Parade at 3:30 p.m. You may want to stick around for the nighttime air invasion when the USSOCOM Para-commandos perform a twilight jump followed by Ghostwriter Airshows and their signature fireworks flight!
The area’s littlest pirates will be first on the day’s parade schedule in the Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll, starting at 1 p.m. at Howard Avenue. This event, which began in 2005, is designed to give children five and under an opportunity to experience parade-style fun in a venue that is conducive for the youngest pirates. The Stroll is only a half-mile along Bayshore Blvd., from Howard Ave. to Rome Ave. The costumed participants are given time to strut their stuff down Bayshore in piratical preschool style—in a decorated wagon or stroller, or on a festive tricycle or bicycle.
The Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll is open to the public. Participants must be in pirate-themed attire and must be accompanied by an adult. No motorized vehicles of any sort are allowed in this fun-for-kids event. Youngsters who participate in the stroll must have registered in advance. No walk-ups will be admitted on the day of the event, but youngsters are encouraged to watch the event along the parade route.
Starting at 3:30 p.m. will be the Children’s Gasparilla Parade. This event has been a part of Tampa’s Gasparilla celebration since 1947. The Children’s Gasparilla Parade will begin at Bay to Bay Blvd. and Bayshore Blvd and will proceed north along Bayshore until it ends at Edison Ave. It will be broadcast live on FOX 13. Also, as in years past, it will be streamed live on www.Fox13News.com. Please note: there will be an opportunity to gain access to the water side of Bayshore Blvd. through parade crossing gates at every intersection along the parade route.
In past years, the Children’s Gasparilla Parade has included over 100 units, including krewes, marching bands, dance units, primary and secondary school organizations, community organizations as well as local neighborhood associations. To reserve Bleacher Parade Seating, tickets are required. They can be ordered online by visiting Gasparilla TreasuresTM and selecting Tickets. Day of the parade tickets may be purchased at an increased price if they are available. There is no charge for watching the parade from the sidelines, only for bleacher seats.
From 6 to 6:30 p.m., The Nighttime Air Invasion will set the stage for the grand finale to the day’s events, the largest “Piratechnic” display of the day. This twilight air show features a precision parachute jump from the United States Special Operation Jump Team – The Para-Commandos — as well as Ghostwriter Airshows and their signature fireworks flight!
Then, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Ye Mystic Crewe re-creates the imaginary sea battle between the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa, centered at Howard Ave. and Bayshore Blvd. This “battle” has been waged annually since 1904, and the pirates have won every year! With the City defenseless, the scene is set for the colorful and festive Gasparilla Pirate Fest scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest will include the historic Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. Click here for more on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival .
Content written by Jackie McCallum for Destination Tampa Bay. Photos courtesy of the Children’s Gasparilla Parade.