TAMPA — The pirate Jose Gaspar probably never existed, his invasion of Tampa that will be re-enacted Saturday definitely never happened, but the party is real. We promise.
And with the weather forecast for Gasparilla 2013, it should be a good one.
With a sun-splashed Saturday expected, Gasparilla organizers repeated this week messages familiar to veterans of the parade: Get there early. Party safely. And, of course, have a good time.
"The weather's going to be great, so come on out early and enjoy the whole day," said Darrell Stefany, president of EventFest, which organizes Gasparilla.
The Gasparilla invasion starts at 11:30 a.m., with the fully rigged pirate ship Jose Gasparilla and scores of boats forming a flotilla sailing up Hillsborough Bay, with the Tampa Convention Center, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the key to the city in the pirates' sights.
The Parade of Pirates, which again is expected to draw about 300,000 to Bayshore Boulevard and downtown, runs from 2 until 5:30 p.m. More than 100 entrants in the parade are expected to ride more than 140 floats and other vehicles down Bayshore under sunny skies.
"It looks fantastic," Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure said of Saturday's forecast. "Light northerly breeze, lots of sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s. Can't beat it."
Revelers will be part of the first Gasparilla crowd subject to the scrutiny of a $2 million police camera system installed last year for the Republican National Convention. Police will use cameras downtown and along Bayshore to look out for fights, disturbances and other crimes.
For the first time since 1996, Gasparilla doesn't have a title sponsor for the parade, the city's largest and most expensive annual event.
Aside from fewer banners, though, event leaders have promised people won't notice much of a change.
Those not partied out by the end of the parade can stay downtown for music at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Skycoasters, a nine-piece cover band from Rochester, N.Y., will take the stage at 5 p.m., followed by Tampa country/rock musician Daniel B. Marshall at 7:30 p.m. and a disc jockey from WFLZ 93.3-FM from 9 to 10 p.m.
2013 Gasparilla Pirate Fest
Where: Along Bayshore Boulevard and Ashley Drive, Tampa
Admission: Free, but also paid reserve seating
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St. Reserved ticket required for adults and children over age 2. Details at gasparillapiratefest.com.
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Pirate invasion. The Jose Gasparilla sets sail at the south end of Hillsborough Bay, sails north to Seddon Channel and docks at the Tampa Convention Center.
2 to 5:30 p.m.: Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates begins at Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards, continues along Bayshore to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein, then north on Ashley Drive and ends at Cass Street and Ashley. Free viewing, but reserved seating available. See gasparillapiratefest.com for details.
12:30 to 6 p.m. Sol Caribe salsa band on Gasparilla Invasion Stage at MacDill Park. 12:30, 2 and 5 p.m.
5 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Musical performances at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Stage at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Skycoasters (5 to 7 p.m.); Daniel B. Marshall (7:30 to 9 p.m.); DJ from WFLZ 93.3-FM (9-10 p.m.)
TECO Line Streetcar: For those parking in Ybor City, take the streetcar from Centennial Park Station to Dick Greco Plaza downtown. Continuous service from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.; $5 for all-day pass purchased with cash at vending machines at each streetcar station. Stations 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 closed 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; stations 5, 6, 7, 9 open for bus service only.
HART bus service: For those parking in Ybor City, bus service will be available during peak times in the morning and afternoon between Ybor's Streetcar Society Station and Dick Greco Plaza. It's $4 for an all-day pass, which may be purchased in advance at HART retail outlets or aboard buses with cash only (no change provided). Monthly bus passes may also be used.
In-Town Trolley: Provides a connection from the north end of downtown (Marion Transit Center) to the south end of downtown (Dick Greco Plaza). Service from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is 25 cents, or streetcar and bus all-day passes accepted.
Tampa Convention Center Garage, opens 5 a.m., $10.
South Regional Garage on Channelside Drive, opens 6 a.m., $10.
Fort Brooke Garage on Whiting Street, opens 6 a.m., $10. Monthly parkers must pay all-day rate.
Whiting Street Garage, opens 9 a.m., $10. Monthly parkers must pay all-day rate.
Jackson Street Parking Lot, opens 7 a.m., $10. Monthly parkers must pay all-day rate.
Poe Garage, open 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., $4.
Twiggs Street Garage, opens 6 a.m., hourly rate of $1.20 per hour, maximum of $7. Pay station at exit.
Royal Regional Lot on Tampa Street, opens 7 a.m., $10.
10 p.m. today: Bayshore Boulevard from Gandy Boulevard to Platt Street/Channelside Drive; Bay to Bay Boulevard from Bayshore to Ysabella Street; Davis Islands Bridge off ramp onto northbound Bayshore Drive.
3 a.m. Saturday: Brorein Street from Florida Avenue to Little Bayshore Boulevard (two south lanes only); Little Bayshore from Brorein to Platt; Platt/Channelside from Plant Avenue to Franklin Street.
5:30 a.m. Saturday: Lee Roy Selmon Expressway eastbound Willow Avenue offramp; Willow from Cleveland Street to Swann Avenue (southbound lanes closed, one-way northbound).
7 a.m. Saturday: Ashley Drive from Brorein to Jackson Street; Brorein from Jefferson Avenue to Florida Avenue; Brorein from Tampa Street to Parker Street; Brorein at Franklin Street; Franklin from Channelside to Old Water Street; Franklin from Old Water to the Harbour Island Bridge (southbound only); Old Water from Florida Avenue to Franklin (westbound only); Washington Street from Ashley to Tampa; Whiting Street from Ashley to Tampa.
9 a.m. Saturday: Kennedy Boulevard from Hyde Park Avenue to Ashley (eastbound); Ashley from the Tampa Street split to Jackson Street; Jackson from Ashley to Tampa; Kennedy from Florida to Plant (westbound); Madison Street from Ashley to Tampa; Madison from Florida to Tampa (westbound); Twiggs Street from Ashley to Tampa; Twiggs from Florida to Tampa (westbound); Zack Street from Ashley to Tampa; Zack from Florida to Tampa (westbound); Polk Street from Ashley to Tampa; Polk from Florida to Tampa (westbound).
11: a.m. Saturday: Cass Street from Willow to Tampa; Willow from Cass to North A Street; Tyler Street from Florida to Gasparilla Plaza.
Sources: City of Tampa, Gasparilla 2013