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Everything you need to know about Gasparilla in Tampa on Saturday.
By Emily Nipps and Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writers
Published January 22, 2008
[Ken Helle | Times]
If you go
Gasparilla Pirate Fest, Saturday, downtown Tampa, (813) 353-8108; www.gasparillapiratefest.com.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, Tampa Convention Center, $55, $45 for children older than 2.
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Flotilla and invasion. From the south end of Hillsborough Bay, the flotilla sails north to Seddon Channel and docks at the Tampa Convention Center. Free.
2 to 5:30 p.m.: Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates. The parade begins on Bayshore Boulevard at Bay to Bay, traveling north on Bayshore into downtown Tampa. Free. Reserved parade seats, $26. Children 2 and younger must stay in adult's lap.
10 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Pirate Fest Street Festival with live entertainment, food and midway. Free admission.
Good to know
- Many of the vendors accept only cash, and access to ATMs along the parade route is limited. Be prepared.
- Pirates are immune to rain. The invasion and parade go on.
For the brave: Plenty of portable toilets will be set up along the parade route, as well as surrounding South Tampa streets and downtown at the Pirate Street Fest. Lines are typically long, so plan ahead!
For the patient: As always, the Publix at 243 Bayshore Boulevard is offering the use of its restrooms to the public. But be warned: You could stand in line, possibly outside in the sun, for 20 minutes or more. Still, it's the way to go for people who can't stand portable toilets or who want to be indoors for a few minutes. Pick up a six pack or some deli snacks on the way out.
For the villager: Hyde Park Village has restrooms on the west side of Snow Avenue, near the Color Me Mine studio at 1609 W Snow Circle, that are open to the public. Closer to the parade route, at the corner of Rome and Snow avenues, Kate Jackson Park also has public bathrooms, but lines tend to move slowly. (The restrooms inside Kate Jackson Community Center won't be open to the public because police will use it as a holding cell for juveniles during Gasparilla.)
For the big spender: If you plan to pop into a bar or restaurant to use the loo, think again. Most of those staying open for the festivities, such as Bella's on Howard Avenue and Timpano Chophouse on Swann Avenue, will be on the watch for non-paying stragglers trying to use their facilities. Four Green Fields on Platt Street won't let anyone in without paying the $10 cover.
Buddy up: This is when your South Tampa friends come in handy. Try parking in their driveways or in front of their homes. Just make sure you're on the correct side of the street - police will hand out $30 fines to anyone parked in front of temporary No Parking signs in residential areas.
The shuttle option: Park at Raymond James Stadium, Lots 1 and 3 for free, then hop on the $10 shuttle that makes round trips to Hyde Park Avenue and DeLeon Street from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Or park at the Centro Ybor Parking Garage (at 1500 E. 5th Ave.) or the Palm Avenue Garage (at 2010 N. 13th St.) and pay just $1 for up to three hours or a total of $4 for 3 hours or more. You can buy a one-day streetcar pass for $4 (bring exact change) on the TECO Lines Streetcar, which stops at Centro Ybor and across from the Tampa Convention Center downtown. The streetcar will operate from 9 a.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday.
Snag a garage spot: All downtown garages will be open, but spaces go quickly so get there early. Rates vary from $4 to $10, and most are open by 7 a.m. For a little more, try one of the three parking garages in Hyde Park Village (at the corner of Rome and Snow avenues; the southeast corner of Swann and S. Dakota avenues; and the southwest corner of Swann and S. Dakota avenues). All charge $20, and they also fill up fast.
Don't break the law: Tampa Police spokesman Cpl. Jared Douds said that deputies will be looking for illegally-parked cars. "We get a lot of vehicles blocking people's driveways, and they will be towed," he said. "We're not out to make people's lives harder, so if someone is, say, parked facing the wrong way but otherwise legal, we might not ticket them. But we do hand out a lot of tickets on that day."
Drunks and thieves
Popular Howard Avenue restaurant Bella's, which is about two blocks from Bayshore Boulevard, will open its doors at 3 p.m., then brace for the onslaught of shenanigans from people leaving the parade.
Bartender Larry Heisel said the staff typically removes everything they can from the tables and walls to deter drunk people with sticky fingers. Last year, the restaurant took all of the candles off the tables and replaced them with rechargeable electric candles. "We lost about a dozen of them," Heisel said. "I don't know how people thought they were going to charge them up once they got home."
Bella's will not take takeout orders on Saturday, he said, "because too many drunks order food and then forget to come get it."
Pre-parties: So you weren't invited to the mansion galas on Bayshore Boulevard? We found a few bars that will welcome you, and your cash. Or you could, of course, crash someone's party along the way - They probably won't know the difference.
Friday (because you just can't wait until Saturday):
Rough Riders: 6 to 11 p.m. at the Embassy Suites, 513 S Florida Ave. A buffet from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., which includes Italian antipasto, chorizo sausage canaps, tostones, beef empanadas, deviled crab croquettes, and a carving station featuring sour orange marinated pork loin. Live music furnished by Otis and the Old School band. $ 35 per person. Order tickets online at www.tampa-roughriders.org.
Whiskey Soho, 720 S Howard Ave: Jose Gaspar Happy Hour with featured Gasparilla Happy Hour specials form 5 to 8 p.m. Half-priced appetizers and free pool.
Saturday (it's finally here):
Timpano Chophouse, 1610 W. Swann Avenue in Old Hyde Park Village. Brunch starts at 11 a.m., and you can make your own Bloody Mary.
Jackson's Bistro: 601 S Harbour Island Blvd.: Enjoy Gasparilla without even leaving the bar. Jackson's opens at 9 a.m., and apart from the regular menu, workers will grill hamburgers and hot dogs at the outside bar. You can look out onto the bay and watch the pirate invasion. The party will continue into the night, with DJs, live music and a $5 cover that starts at 6 p.m.
After-parties (if you make it through the parade)
Four Green Fields, 205 W Platt St.: This is right off the parade route. Owners will fence off the little thatched-roof Irish hut and charge $10.
MacDinton's, 405 S Howard Ave.: Start lining up now to get into the Irish hot spot. It'll be business as usual Saturday, and that includes a $5 cover and live music.
Pirate Street Festival: Downtown, along Florida Avenue, from Kennedy to Channelside. This all-ages party starts at 10 a.m. and continues to 11 p.m. Features stages with live entertainment, food, rides and games. It's free.
Third-annual Pelota de Fuego (Ball of Fire) Party: Starts at 4 p.m. at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, 720 Zack Street downtown. The Krewes of Saint Florian, Charlotte de Berry and Knights of Saint John are sponsoring the party to benefit the museum. Tickets are available now at The Bead Barn and Buccaneer Beads for $25. For more information, contact Ron Hoedebeck at 813-610-0641 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Street festival schedule
The Pirate Fest Street Festival features three stages with live entertainment, food and the Gasparilla Midway.
- Invasion stage
(corner of Platt Street and Bayshore Boulevard in the Publix parking lot)
10 to 11 a.m.: Navy Band Southeast Jazz Ensemble and Petty Officer Phil Stacey, a former American Idol finalist. (pop)
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Rhythm Method (pop/rock)
1 to 2:15 p.m.: SkyCoasters (pop)
5:30 to 7 p.m.: SkyCoasters
- Pirate Fest stage
(corner of Florida Avenue and Brorein Street)
10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Schilter (hard rock)
Noon to 1 p.m.: Clenchfist (hard rock)
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Basic Rock Outfit (hard rock)
5:45 to 7:15 p.m.: Highway to Hell (hard rock)
7:45 to 9:15 p.m.: FUEL (hard rock)
- City Center stage
(corner of Florida Avenue and Jackson Street)
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Local band, TBA
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Meet and greet with Vanessa Hauc & Jorge Bernal from Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste
1 to 2:30 p.m.: DJ Speedy JR (Latin)
5:45 to 6:45 p.m.: El Fantazma (reggae/Latin pop)
7:15 to 8:15 p.m.: Eddie Marcos (salsa)
[Last modified January 25, 2008, 12:31:00]