Tips for enjoying the Gasparilla children's parade

In the Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza, a tame Gasparilla celebration for kids and families on Saturday, you can expect some pirate fun without the booze and wild behavior.

There will be plenty of activity along the water in South Tampa, beginning with a bicycle safety rodeo (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.); an air invasion featuring vintage aircraft and the U.S. Special Operations Command parachute team (noon and 3 p.m.); the Preschooler's Stroll (2 p.m.); the Children's Parade from 3:30 to 6 p.m.; and the air invasion night flight (6:30 p.m.). The Piratechnic Extravaganza fireworks show begins at 7 p.m. and features a sea battle between the city of Tampa and the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the day:

Don't even try to find a parking spot near the action. Use the shuttle that will operate two continuous routes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The shuttle will pick up at the South Regional Garage at Florida Avenue and Channelside Drive and at the Fort Brooke Garage at Franklin and Whiting streets. Cost: $5 for adults. Kids ride free if they're with an adult.

Think about buying a bleacher seat. If you want to assure that you'll have a spot to sit, reserved tickets are $14.95. Go to gasparillaextravaganza.com and click on Tickets 'n' Treasures for more information.

Bring food, water and money. There will be food for sale, but it's always a good idea to pack a snack to keep the little ones satisfied. But if the cotton candy vendor comes along, you'll need a few dollars for that. No large coolers or glass containers are allowed. Small, soft-sided coolers and lunch bags are permitted for child care and medical needs. There will be portable ATMs along the route, but be aware of the fees.

There will be portable bathrooms along the parade route and throughout the event site. Just make sure to take the kids before they need to go because lines tend to get long. Take sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer to keep clean.

Claim your spot early. It's sort of like one of those Disney parades where folks start sitting on the sidewalk sometimes an hour or two before the parade begins. Find a nice spot, set up camp with chairs and blankets and take turns shuttling kids to various events.

No pets allowed. It's a good idea to leave Scruffy at the house. Make provisions for your pets if you plan to make a day of it.

Tips for enjoying the Gasparilla children's parade 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 8:49pm]

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