TAMPA — Tens of thousands of people streaming Saturday into South Tampa for the Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest can grab beads, see floats, smell the ubiquitous cigar smoke — and sign up for health insurance.
Events run all day, including a street festival featuring live entertainment and food from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. along Ashley Drive in downtown. The pirate ship Jose Gasparilla "invades" the city, sailing up Seddon Channel and docking about 1 p.m. outside the Tampa Convention Center. The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates begins at 2 p.m. along Bayshore Boulevard and ends downtown about 5:30 p.m.
It will be some 10 degrees cooler for the parade than it was last year. According to meteorologist at Bay News 9, early arrivals at the festivities will want to bundle up. But it'll warm to about 64 by mid-day. No rain is forecast.
In the wake of last year's bombings at the Boston Marathon, spectators this year at Gasparilla can expect camera surveillance, more police presence and a bomb sweep of all parade floats, among other enhanced security measures. Police are encouraging spectators who see something suspicious to report it.
New this year at the parade: Representatives of the Health Insurance Marketplace will staff a booth to help people explore options for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.
The booth will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the center median of Bayshore Boulevard, one block north of Bay to Bay Boulevard.