Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Knights of Sant'Yago serve up a night of beads, revelry

TAMPA — The experts insist it's all about making eye contact with the person tossing the beads. But screaming can be effective, too.

Elisabeth Linsinbigler, 12, of Dover was in the screaming camp at Saturday's Krewe of Sant'Yago Knight Parade through Ybor City. Her neck held a bounty of beads.

As the Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune float thundered by, Elisabeth raised her arms and unleashed a yell that, absent a loud parade, would generate a dozen calls to 911.

"And I smile a lot," the girl said.

Her sister Alexis, 14, knew Elisabeth's real secret. "She just looks cute," said Alexis.

Thousands of people enjoying perfect weather lined Seventh Avenue to watch a parade of loud, rollicking floats that has become a Tampa tradition. It's an ancient festival by Florida standards, tracing its roots to the 1970s. It borrows from Mardi Gras. But the finished blend is Tampa original.

Pirates danced in the street. The parrot on one reveler's shoulder was stuffed. But amid the competing aromas of cigars and beer, who noticed or cared?

And it's all about getting those cheap beads.

St. Petersburg attorney Chris Sierra bought $500 worth of beads and manned the Krewe of Sant'Yago float. In his costume he looked a bit like Henry VIII.

Sierra said it's eye contact that wins the beads. He also said it's important to throw them in a high arc. After all, nobody enjoys plastic beads flung into the face.

"You've got to be careful," he said, swinging his arm to demonstrate his technique.

Dan Buntyn of Tampa walked down the street with his daughter Emily beside him. He said she's now a veteran of two night parades. She's almost 2.

Her monkey hat might have helped attract some beads, but even if she hadn't managed to grab any among the jostling adults, her father promised to catch a few for her.

"She's not going home empty handed," he said.

Jose Monsegor, 23, of Tampa was hanging out with a few friends, their necks covered with beads. They neither screamed nor made eye contact. They were scavengers, feasting on the beads that slipped through fingers and fell to the pavement.

But his real purpose was soon clear. Whenever a pretty woman caught his eye, he would present her with a gift of beads. One woman frowned, but accepted the gift before sprinting away. One smiled flirtatiously at him.

"That's the way to do it," he said. "That's what it's about."

Louanna Tallent of Tampa screamed herself hoarse. But she noted that doesn't always work.

"In this parade," she said, "it helps to show some cleavage."

None of this is rocket science, of course. Just ask the geneticist hanging out with the Unsinkable Krewe of Molly Brown. The krewe's float is a sinking Titanic. The geneticist is Bob Gasparini. He's taught at Harvard.

It was his first night parade. A buddy instructed him in the finer points of bead tossing. The friend walked beside the float. But as a novice, Gasparini said he would stay well clear of the bead-thirsty crowd.

"I think," he said, "I'll just stay on the deck of the Titanic."

William R. Levesque can be reached at

Knights of Sant'Yago serve up a night of beads, revelry 02/09/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bar review: The Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    I've spent many evenings in St. Pete's Jannus Live courtyard, enjoying one of the best open-air venues in the Tampa Bay area. It's where I saw my first concert in Florida: Toadies, on the Rubberneck tour sometime in the mid '90s.

    The drinks at the Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg are about as cheap as you’ll find at any other regular downtown bar, a nice surprise.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Two Henrys Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat

    Bars & Spirits

    Two Henrys Brewing Company is a unique entity in the Tampa Bay brewing scene, due to both its status as the only brewery in Plant City, as well as its location on a 27-acre working farm, which also includes a winery.

    Photo by Justin Grant
  3. Who is Congressman Patrick Murphy?


    The fundraising email came fast, and full of outrage.

    A fundraising email from former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy
  4. Interview: Todd Rundgren comes to St. Petersburg looking to reach a new generation

    Music & Concerts

    They're teaching Todd Rundgren in college now.

    Todd Rundgren will perform at the Mahaffey Theater on May 27. Credit: Lynn Goldsmith
  5. Bob Buckhorn: Expanding homestead exemption will endanger Tampa's progress


    In the years leading up to my taking office, Tampa families experienced some of the hardest times in recent history. Homes were lost, jobs were cut, and optimism for the future waned.

    Critics say expanding the homestead exemption for Florida property owners will strain the resources of local governments as they recover from the Great Recession.[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times, 2005]