TAMPA — The cannons echoed throughout the city. People walking along downtown Tampa's streets searched for the source of the sound.
Then they saw it: a black and red ship gliding down Tampa Street toward Lykes Gaslight Square Park.
It was the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, here again to retrieve the city's key from Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
One by one, they jumped off their vessel onto the grass below, tossing beads and metal coins at spectators.
"We're here to take over the city again!" one pirate shouted.
They trampled toward the center of the park and waited for Buckhorn.
Moments later, he arrived, flanked by pirates on each side, the city's key clutched in his hand.
"There's no way I'm giving this up!" Buckhorn shouted as several pirates tried to wrestle the key from him.
"Good citizens of Tampa, should I hold onto this key?" he asked the crowd.
"No!" shouted some. "Yes!" yelled others.
"All right," Buckhorn said, "we're holding on as long as we can."
One disgruntled pirate tried to reason with the mayor. They would bring in reinforcements. They would shoot at the city until their guns were aglow.
Buckhorn didn't budge.
On this day, the invaders relented. But not without a warning:
"We'll be back."
Laura C. Morel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3386.