TAMPA — Just before the parade started, a trio of pirates posed for a photo.
Trevor Winn, 5, put his eye patch on and smiled.
Then, he took it off.
It's hard to see the action with just one eye.
Hundreds of pint-sized pirates swarmed Bayshore Boulevard Saturday for the annual Children's Gasparilla Parade.
This was the first Gasparilla experience for the Winn family of Ruskin, but they came prepared — friends had filled them in on the costume part ahead of time.
"We bought these on Amazon," Trevor's mother, Emily Winn, said of her son's and daughter's pirate garb. Their friend, Cierra Ries, 2, was similarly bedecked.
Both were dressed head to toe in stripes and the classic pirate colors of black, red and white.
Vince and Krista Jacobs, of South Tampa, have taken their two children to the event for the past three years. But this might be their last.
Vince Jacobs is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base and works as a staff officer at U.S. Central Command. He is transferring to a new city this year.
"This is our favorite thing about Tampa," Krista Jacobs said. "I would imagine we'll try to come back sometime."
Their son, 5-year-old Eli, likes to collect the beads. He wore two of his favorites, featuring pirate skulls, from last year's parade.
Tatiana Bell, 8, was collecting beads to give back out at the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Tampa on Monday. Her mother, Kiana Bell, of Riverview, said the children's parade was quickly becoming a family tradition.
"Seems as if you come once, you're hooked," she said.
For Michelle Bolton's two sons, the day is all about the beads.
Each has his own approach on how to gather the most. Thomas Bolton, 9, waves his hands in the air and shouts while his younger brother, Jacob Bolton, 6, grabs those on the ground that others missed, even if it means ducking between a stranger's legs.
"It's probably a competition," Michelle Bolton, of South Tampa, said. "They'll go home and sort them, count them and trade them. We go home with hundreds. It's ridiculous."
But neither of the boys drape the necklaces around their necks like most of the other miniature pirates.
"They stick them in their bags," their mother said, "probably thinking they can grab more and not feel bad."
The children's parade is a tamer precursor to Tampa's signature event next Saturday, the annual Gasparilla Pirate Street Festival. The daylong event features a flotilla of boats as pirates "invade" Tampa, and, starting at 2 p.m. a bigger and more raucous parade along Bayshore Boulevard.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2442.