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Too cold to throw beads? Not at all

TAMPA

Sheryl Devoe got to Seventh Avenue in Ybor City just after 6 p.m. Saturday and set up her folding chair along the fence line.

She's been to more Krewe of the Knights of Sant'Yago Knight Parades than she can remember, she said, but that didn't dampen her enthusiasm.

Devoe was one of the few pirates behind the barricades Saturday night. Most of the paradegoers opted to keep warm instead of festive.

But passersby could spot the 39-year-old life skills trainer from a block away. She came decked out in a pink wig and shimmery cape over and black and white corset and pirate skirt.

"I love to dress up," she explained. "I have a closet full of costumes."

Very few people brought out their pirate gear for the 37th annual night parade, the final march of the season.

But those who were willing to brave the cold turned heads and, like Devoe, made themselves huge targets for krewe members tossing beads.

Tampa police had no major injuries to report, though a krewe member on a float did hurt her leg prior to the parade.

Beads rocketed out of the floats as music pumped and people jumped up and down hoping to grab a few more strands of Tampa treasure.

Laura Gasser, 36, didn't need to reach out — she'd come with her own supply. The saucy red-wigged pirate wench (in costume at least) collected an array of specialty beads when she used to work at South Tampa's Bead Barn. She recognized Krewe members as the rode by and waved at familiar faces.

"I'm surprised at the crowd, the turnout," she said. "I heard it was going to be 30 degrees, so it's great to see so many people out tonight."

Not every paradegoer was a veteran, Ian Wackholt, dressed as his Renaissance Fair character, a fiddler in burlap sack clothing, was taking in his first night parade ever.

The 21-year-old violinist from Tampa had been only to the Gasparilla parade and thought this incarnation was much more fun.

"The floats have been my favorite. I love it," he shouted over the blaring music.

Devoe said she expected the parade to turn into a real adult event around 10:30 p.m., but by then she would be long gone. "I leave right after the parade," she said.

Somewhere mixed in all the fun was the understanding by many in the crowd that this was the end. There would be no more beads littering Tampa's streets until 2012.

"The night parade is the accumulation of Gasparilla as a whole, the finale. This is the end," said Chris Herman, 43, who was channeling Capt. Jack Sparrow in his costume.

Herman, an airline worker from Tampa, said the entire season is a lot of fun and it gets better annually.

Wackholt's suggestion for improving the experience next year was simple: "More beads! Throw gobs of beads."

Too cold to throw beads? Not at all 02/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 13, 2011 1:16pm]
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