Welcome to Ybor City Gasparilla! A Unique Pirate Festival
The Ybor City Neighborhood is the center point of the Sant’ Yago Knight Parade (www.knightparade.com) which is part of the famous Tampa Bay Gasparilla Pirate Festival (www.gasparillapiratefest.com). Sometimes the parade is referred to as the Ybor City Gasparilla Night Parade. The Knight Parade is a staple of the Ybor scene just as the Gasparilla day festival is to south Tampa; they are both Mardi Gras style parades where you can imbibe your beverage of choice and do your best to catch some beads. There are also much more family oriented parades and activities associated with these events for the parents and little pirates in your life.
Gasparilla proper has taken place annually in February since 1904 and celebrates the unique heritage of living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Gasparilla is hosted by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (www.ymkg.com), which is Tampa’s oldest and most prestigious krewe (A krewe is a social organization that is involved with throwing parades or carnivals and philanthropy). Many krewes, made up of local Tampa Bay citizens, participate in the parade and in 2012 there were 56 that participated in Gasparilla. Everyone in Tampa loves to participate in the festivities and don their best buccaneer outfits. It is a normal occurrence to see someone with an eye patch during Gasparilla week.
Legend has it (though assumed to be fiction) that pirate legend José Gaspar terrorized the waters of southwest Florida. Every year since the parades inception, Gaspar and his krewe invade the city on their 165-foot pirate ship. Gaspar and his band of pirates take the mayor hostage in an event during the week of the parade where they are given the key to the city and Tampa Bay is turned over to the pirates.
Ybor City Gasparilla consists of Sant' Yago Knight Parade and is the most adult oriented activity involved with Gasparilla and his hosted by another very prestigious krewe, the Krewe of the Knights of Sant Yago (www.kreweofsantyago.com). This parade was started in 1972 and has been taking place in Ybor City ever since. Ybor City Gasparilla features illuminated floats throwing beads and pirate related trinkets into the crowd of inebriated onlookers. Afterwards, the streets of Ybor continue to bustle as people head in and out of the various clubs and bars full dressed in their pirate regalia. If you are looking for a similar experience to Mardi Gras, this is about as close as you can get. The Ybor City Gasparilla Night Parade is normally held either a week or two after Gasparilla proper. This event is one of Tampa, Florida’s calling cards and is always a topic of conversation in the months leading up to the parade. The locals prepare for these festivities and looks forward to them
If you have never attended these events, there is not that much that can be said to describe them; you must see it for yourself. So go get yourself a buccaneers outfit, an eye-patch, fill your tankard to join over 100,000 people. Oh and don’t forget to learn your pirate lingo, matey.