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Tampa mayor holds tight to city key as Gasparilla pirates invade

TAMPA — Even as he was held hostage by a group of grown men dressed as pirates, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn refused Tuesday to hand over the key to the city.

"Who let these lowlife pirates into the city?" Buckhorn asked, as the band of rascals wearing plastic bead necklaces escorted him to a stage in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. "You will not get the key!"

Members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pulled into town on their pirate ship just after noon Tuesday with the sound of cannons booming, hurling beads at men and women in business suits, who craned their necks as the deafening ruckus spilled onto Tampa Street.

They demanded to see the mayor. When at first he did not appear, he was called a coward.

But soon enough, Buckhorn was there, trading insults with the trash-talking scoundrels.

"Do we want to give up the key to the city to this band of ne'er-do-wells?" the mayor asked a crowd of camera-toting civilians. Then came the surprise and resounding answer: "Yeah!"

"I know you handled the RNC," one pirate said, "and I know you handled the Super Bowl and now Bollywood. But you can't handle Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla."

Still the mayor was defiant.

"We will see you on Saturday and you will not get this key," he said.

At that, the pirates walked off and headed to lunch.

If you go

Saturday in Tampa:

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Gasparilla invasion. The Jose Gasparilla sets sail at the south end of Hillsborough Bay about 11:30 a.m., sails north to Seddon Channel, docks at the Tampa Convention Center about 1 p.m. Free.

2 p.m. to about 5:30 p.m.: Parade of pirates begins at Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards; continues along Bayshore to Brorein Street; turns east on Brorein and then north on Ashley Drive; ends at Ashley and Cass Street. Free viewing and reserved seating. Details at gasparillapiratefest.com.

Tampa mayor holds tight to city key as Gasparilla pirates invade 01/21/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 8:45pm]
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[Times file photo]