Gasparilla 2015: Pirates Invade Tampa

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Hi everyone!  The Gasparilla 2015 Pirate Parade was held today in Tampa, and I am pleased to say I was there to catch all the action.  The festival has been going strong since it was first held in 1904.  With a look and feel a bit like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the premise of the festival is a celebration of legendary local pirate, Jose Gaspar.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams

The highlight of the festival is today’s parade, which starts with a mock invasion by Jose Gaspar and the members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla as they sail into Tampa Bay aboard a 165 foot long ‘pirate’ ship — the Jose Gasparilla — which was built in 1954 specifically for the celebration.  The pirate ship is accompanied by a flotilla of local boats, and parking can be a bit tricky out on the water.

The Jose Gasparilla arrives in Tampa Bay, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams
The Jose Gasparilla arrives in Tampa Bay

Boats parked in Tampa Bay, by NYC photojournalist, Kelly Williams

Once the ship reaches the Tampa Convention Center, the mayor of Tampa — Bob Buckhorn — relinquishes the key to the city to Jose Gaspar, and a ‘victory’ parade for the pirates commences along Bayshore Boulevard.

The mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn
Tampa mayor, Bob Buckhorn, and his pirate pants

As with Mardi Gras, participants in the parade throw beads, coins, and other trinkets to the crowd.  Cannon fire is heard constantly as the krewes are known to be a rowdy bunch.  Indeed, there have been complaints over the years about the level of intoxication and debauchery.  As a result, the city created a much more family-friendly children’s pirate parade, which is held the weekend prior to the larger parade.  But For the record, what I saw out on the streets wasn’t all that bad with the exception of a few completely drunk souls who were being carried away by friends.

Enjoy the pics, and if you would like to see more examples of my work, please visit my website portfolio.

Jose Gaspar and his band of pirates arrive in Tampa, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams

The littlest mermaid, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.
The littlest mermaid

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams

A parrot at a pirate parade, of course, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams
A parrot at a pirate parade, of course

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

A friendly cop distributes beads, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.
A friendly cop distributes beads

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Check out the fishing nets to catch beads, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.
Check out the fishing nets to catch beads

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

A member of Ye Mystic Krewe, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

A member of Ye Mystic Krewe, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

An ATM conveniently located in a port-a-potty, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.
An ATM conveniently located in a port-a-potty
A posh house party held on the Bayshore, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.
A posh house party held on the Bayshore. Note the many guards keeping out the riff raff.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Tampa celebrates Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

A little pirate wench begs for beads, by NYC photojouralist, Kelly Williams.

Friends helping friends after the parade
Friends helping friends after the parade.
The aftermath of Gasparilla 2015, by NYC photojournalist, Kelly Williams.
The aftermath

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