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Time to gear up for Gasparilla

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.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest Schedule

On Saturday:

10 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Street festival features live entertainment and food, downtown along Ashley Drive from Kennedy Boulevard to Cass Street. Free.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Invasion brunch, Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St. Parking available at the convention center and throughout downtown, but arrive early as parking fills up quickly. Reserved tickets required for adults and children over age 2. Details at

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


Parking: Available throughout downtown and Ybor City. City parking garages have one-time special event rate paid upon entry.

Restrictions: Parking enforcement is in effect in the area of the festivities and neighborhoods bordering the parade route. Warning slips to illegally parked cars issued 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Tickets issued from noon to 10 p.m.; violators towed from 10 p.m. Friday to end of event Saturday.

Streetcars, buses: Extra streetcar, bus and trolley service offered Saturday. See or for details.

Street closings

Street closings begin late Friday. For a schedule, see

Time to gear up for Gasparilla 01/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 11:49am]
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