Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Carlton: Tampa's Gasparilla now sails sea of diversity

RECOMMENDED READING


So it's Gasparilla again, Tampa's rich, historic tradition of pirates and parades, beer, beads, and the occasional bawd, a town at its best and, okay, sometimes its worst.

The weather the mayor ordered should arrive on time, cool enough Saturday morning that even hardcore partiers won't start bending elbows early because it's hot and hate stumbling by noon. Because on this day, it is not unusual to spot someone enjoying a frosty beverage with the sun barely up, Tampa partying Mardi Gras style.

Gasparilla is the same as it's been for decades — festooned pirate ship gliding across the bay, scarred and bandana'd marauders, kids large and small begging beads tossed skyward from floats, the city in full party mode — but also not the same.

One of my very first glimpses of Gasparilla years ago always comes back to me: A gangplank to carry the pirates off the ship and onto dry land buckled. So a bunch of workers, many of them black, hoisted it on their shoulders as the white pirates, the city's elite dressed up for a day of play, plundered off.

I remember, too, the story of a Gasparilla luncheon at the Tampa Yacht Club in the 1980s. Some imbibing pirates got in a food fight, with the wait staff looking at the mess they would have to clean up and no less than Mayor Sandy Freedman ducking under a table when the silverware started flying.

Time — and even Gasparilla — changes. After the big brouhaha over Ye Mystic Krewe's all-white, all-male membership, they admitted a few black members. Today you have more than 50 krewes in the pirate party: a krewe for "women of spirit and wit," krewes of sailboaters and riverboat gamblers, the Krewe of Buffalo Soldiers, a krewe in kilts.

There's even Ye Notorious Krewe of the Peg Leg Pirate, with a core mission of helping amputees and their families. Now there's a bunch that knows how to mix purpose with fun.

And this year, the big party will surely be attended by couples who could not have been legally married as of last Gasparilla, but by today's parade have been legally bethrothed. That's a nice milestone.

But before we start looking too inclusive here, ours is still a party in which a friendly group from one county south will not be parading for reasons still murky. Might it have something to do with the fact that they, too, dress up like pirates? As if!

What's great about Gasparilla is that, beyond the blueblooded bluebeards, it's for everyone. People pour in from rural corners and staid suburbs and grittier city neighborhoods north of Kennedy Boulevard, places some South Tampa denizens still rarely venture — all to play pirate.

And for an only-in-Tampa moment, look, over there, at those Bayshore mansions along the parade route — why, it's socialite Jill Kelley of CIA director scandal fame co-hosting a big do with her neighbors the Maddons, as in former Rays manager Joe, who we're still mad at for leaving us. Okay, so maybe not for today.

Gasparilla at its worst? Too-young kids sick from drinking, adults behaving badly, random peeing, an air of lawlessness, the college-age men I once saw wrestling beads from a homeless man. But police have tamped down on much of that in recent years.

Police who today, by the way, wear badges bearing a skull-and-bones.

Hey, it's Tampa, and also Gasparilla.

Comments

Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Updated: 7 hours ago
No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

PHILADELPHIA — There were so many reasons for UCF coach Scott Frost to worry about his team’s focus. With a huge game against USF looming, playing an improving Temple team in a stadium where the empty seats outnumbered the filled ones by about a 3-1 ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL pla...
Updated: 8 hours ago
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.But the belief the Bucs ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

TAMPA — Can the Bucs pull off back-to-back wins with a backup quarterback? Win a game on the road for the first time this season? Politely hand the unnamed trophy for the state’s worst football team back to the Dolphins?With WR Mike Evans back from h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher longed for his team to play in this type of game throughout its disappointing season.After Hurricane Irma caused a three-week layoff between FSU’s first two games, forcing it to play 11 in a row to finis...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Updated: 8 hours ago