For the first time in Gasparilla's history, the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar is making an appearance in the festivities.
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla has organized a show after Saturday's children's parade to tell the story of Tampa's biggest party and bridge the time between when the parade ends at 6 p.m. and the fireworks begin at 7. In the past, many families packed up their beads and left before dark.
The multimedia presentation will take place from the Jose Gasparilla, the "pirate ship'' moored off Bayshore Boulevard near Rome Avenue in Hillsborough Bay. Parade-goers will be able to see it along Bayshore and hear it from speakers set up along the parade route.
At 6 p.m. YMKG Captain Philip Carroll will warn the crowd of Tampa's impending doom and order his krewe mates to prepare for a pirate invasion — the main Gasparilla party set for Jan. 28. At 6:30 p.m. the ship will "come to life'' with lights, video and a visit from the feared Jose Gaspar, who according to legend pillaged the waters off Florida's West Coast.
"We decided to highlight the ship and the history of Jose Gaspar and tell what it all means to the city,'' said Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla executive officer Don Barnes.
"A lot of people may not understand our rich history. They may understand that (Gasparilla) is a big deal, but they may not know that it's been going on since 1904.''
For those who don't attend the children's parade, the show will be replayed in an abbreviated form at 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. It won't be broadcast through speakers, but it should be audible near Bayshore and Rome. After that, the ship will move to the Port of Tampa for final preparations for the invasion at the Tampa Convention Center.
Krewe officials hope to make the show a permanent part of the Gasparilla children's parade.
Also new this year are front-row seats on the water side of Bayshore between Ardson Place and Carolina Avenue, which are sold out for the children's parade.