Kids treasure Children's Gasparilla Parade in Tampa

TAMPA — Reaching over the edge of a metal fence separating the floats from the children, Kierabella Newton snagged a strand of beads in midair.

It was a dextrous grab for a 4-year-old girl attending her first Children's Gasparilla Parade on Saturday. Her father, Clifton Newton, was excited to bring Kierabella and her 2-year-old brother to their first parade.

"It's been wonderful," said Newton, a 31-year-old telecommunications worker from Brandon. "Any day you can spend with your kids is a good day."

The 21/2 hour parade featured more than 100 floats and presenters traveling along a stretch of Bayshore Boulevard.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn walked the entire 1.4-mile route, tossing beads and soaking in his first Children's Gasparilla Parade as Tampa's leader.

"It's great just to see the kids' excited faces," he said.

Along with his wife and daughters, Buckhorn estimated he gave out 50 bags of beads.

"The kids' parade really is a lot of fun," Buckhorn said. "So many children are having such a good a time."

Especially when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla got creative with this year's loot. Beyond the bounty of beads, people on floats threw candy, cloth flying discs, rubber balls, soft footballs, pirates' "gold" and other keepsakes.

Marchers handed toy swords and other safe items to small children who couldn't catch their own beads.

By 6 p.m., the excitement had worn out Cadence and Aubrey Waraksa, who came with their mom, 2011 Mrs. Gasparilla Elizabeth Waraksa.

Proud of the beads filling a blue IKEA bag, 5-year-old Cadence made her plans clear.

"I'm going to keep them," she proclaimed.

Waraksa, 31, a stay-at-home mother and real estate agent from Lithia, had participated in the parade before, but this was her first time with the girls.

"We walked about half the route, and that was all we could take," she said.

The family camped out at Bayshore Boulevard and S Albany Avenue for the remainder of the parade before making their way home.

Still on the route, Newton raised his son, Cassius, in the air and told him to wave to get the attention of people on the floats.

Several strings of beads dangled almost down to his knees.

"There wasn't anything that would deter us from coming back next year," Newton said. "It's kid-friendly and a great time."

Kids treasure Children's Gasparilla Parade in Tampa 01/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:15pm]

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