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Authorities to fine boaters who toss too many Gasparilla beads into water

Hundreds of boats surround the Jose Gasparilla as the ship makes its way toward downtown Tampa during the annual pirate invasion. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times, 2015]


Hundreds of boats surround the Jose Gasparilla as the ship makes its way toward downtown Tampa during the annual pirate invasion. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times, 2015]

Pirates are known for breaking the rules.

But if you're among those on the water impersonating a buccaneer during the Gasparilla Parade Of Pirates on Saturday, law enforcement reminds you that following the law is a must.

"We are looking for everybody to have a good time," Stephen Decatur, master corporal at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said during a Thursday press conference on Gasparilla boating safety. "But we want to make sure everyone is safe out there."

Sea life too.

GASPARILLA GUIDE: What you need to know for the parade

Anyone littering the water with beads can be fined $110, said James Boogaerts, a conservation initiative officer for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Everyone likes to have beads thrown to them, given to them," Boogaerts said. "No one wants to see these beads floating in the water hurting our animals."

If a few beads fall short of their goal and splash, don't expect to be punished. But if the bead count in the water is excessive, there will be a fine.

Gasparilla events kick off at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday when the world's only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, begins sailing through the Hillsborough Bay into Seddon Channel between Davis Islands and Harbour Island and finally ports at the Tampa Convention Center around 1 p.m.

Other rules discussed at the news conference Thursday bore repeating, law enforcement officials said.

These include remaining sober if captaining a boat, wearing life jackets, preparing for cold weather, looking out for manatees, watching closely for all the boats in the water.

More than 1,000 sea vessels took part in the Gasparilla event last year, the Coast Guard said.

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

Authorities to fine boaters who toss too many Gasparilla beads into water 01/26/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2017 3:46pm]
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