Parade organizers, charity fight over beer sales
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Members of the Jolly Roger Civic Association say they wanted to sell beer at Gasparilla for one reason: to raise money for the widows and children of fallen firefighters.
But Ye Mystic Krewe, the organizers of the annual pirate festival, resisted. They said the Jolly Roger wasn't one of the charities "approved" to sell beer on the parade route, even though the group intended to set up on private property on Bayshore Boulevard.
The clash between the Jolly Roger, composed mainly of Hillsborough County firefighters, and Ye Mystic Krewe, the all-male club that includes many of the city's rich and powerful, raised several questions Thursday.
Among them: Can parade organizers hand-pick the charities allowed to sell beer at the festival? And how much control should organizers have over people on private property?
"It's a little sad that it had to come to this," said firefighter Kevin Kahmeyer, the Jolly Roger's president.
Kahmeyer said festival organizers have hassled them in two past parades. That's why the Jolly Roger asked a judge Thursday for an injunction against further interference this Saturday.
Judge Marva Crenshaw ruled in favor of the Jolly Roger, saying that parade organizers cannot block or interfere with the beer tent. But Ye Mystic Krewe and EventMakers, which puts on the parade, have asked the court to dissolve the injunction.
A judge will hear the case this morning.
The dispute also reared its head Thursday at City Hall, where Ye Mystic Krewe and EventMakers asked the City Council to oppose Jolly Roger's request for a one-day liquor license.
The two groups expressed opposition to a handful of charities that requested one-day liquor licenses for Saturday's festival, including a charity that wanted to open a beer tent eight blocks from the parade route.
"There were charities selected for this process," said Darryl Stefany, president of EventMakers. "We respectfully ask (the City Council) to respect the process in place."
Stefany said six charities were selected to sell beer on the parade route. All have proper liability insurance, he said, and donate all of their proceeds.
Other groups that haven't been scrutinized by EventMakers may not have proper insurance, Stefany said, and it's unclear whether their funds will actually be used for charity.
Stefany said he doesn't want two charities selling beer side-by-side, with the proceeds of one tent siphoning off profits from another.
But there's another reason EventMakers and Ye Mystic Krewe don't want "unapproved" charities selling beer: They may sell something other than Miller beer, a Gasparilla sponsor.
Stefany said EventMakers had "big problems" with the Jolly Roger last year when it sold Budweiser from its tent on private property on Bayshore Boulevard.
"We will take all rights that we have in an attempt to protect our sponsorship," Stefany said.
Kahmeyer told council members that EventMakers tried to interfere with his tent at last year's Gasparilla festival. And during last week's Children's Parade, he said, EventMakers parked a truck in front of the Jolly Roger tent, which was selling only sodas and snacks.
The council approved Jolly Roger's temporary liquor license, but with stipulations.
Jolly Roger must name EventMakers on its insurance policy. Also, 100 percent of the proceeds must go to charity. Kahmeyer initially indicated that some of the funds may go to the Jolly Roger group and not the widows' and children's fund.
Officials from the Hillsborough County Firefighters Charities Inc. said Jolly Roger has donated $3,000 to the fund.
The Hillsborough firefighters charity and the union distanced themselves from Jolly Roger after hearing news of Thursday's court action. The two groups said they do not endorse any of Jolly Roger'sactions or events.
Still, union officials said Jolly Roger members are trying to do the right thing.
"I think their true motivation is that they want to give to a worthy cause," said Chris Boles, secretary of the union. "They're all good people."
If a judge rules in favor of the Jolly Roger -- called an "ambush vendor" by one Ye Mystic Krewe member -- the firefighters will sell beer at this year's Gasparilla.
And it can be whatever brand of beer they want.
Representatives from EventMakers and Ye Mystic Krewe did not return calls Thursday.
Roger Taylor, Jolly Roger's lawyer, said he is considering a lawsuit against EventMakers for hampering past profits.
"My clients are out there, not only risking their lives to protect people, but they take money and give it to a worthy organization," Taylor said. "I have heard some people refer to Gasparilla as the biggest public urinal in history. What does Gasparilla contribute to?"
Glazer brothers to reign over the Gasparilla parade
TAMPA -- First the Raiders. Now the pirates. It seems everyone is surrendering to the Bucs this week.
In honor of Sunday's Super Bowl win, Ye Mystic Krewe announced Thursday that Buccaneers vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer will be grand marshals of Saturday's Gasparilla Parade.
The parade begins about 1:45 p.m. and stretches three miles along Bayshore Boulevard to downtown Tampa.
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