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Gasparilla excitement leaves you gasping

It was a good weekend for Gasparilla watching and, as our Ocala familycame down for the weekend, we all descended on my Tampa niece who lives on Davis Islands and provided a swell perch from which to watch the goings on.

We sat on a sea wall and watched all the boats preceding the invasion of Tampa by pirates. There were hundreds of boats of every size and description, from rowboats with outboards to sizable yachts and sailing vessels, whose crews soaked each other with water hoses, water balloons and buckets of water.

Some were so loaded down they barely rose above the water line, and some of the people were equally loaded. Remarkably, we saw only one person fall overboard and two dead motors in the group. But Coast Guard personnel and water patrol boats kept a constant vigil over the bunch. Finally, after about an hour and a half, the Jose de Gasparilla, towed by a tug, and with every square inch of decking, every crow's nest and rung on the rigging ladders loaded with brightly clad pirates, and with bright flags rippling in the breeze, came into view.

It is a sight to see.

Lunch was Cuban sandwiches, of course, after which we walked to the Davis Islands bridge where we watched the parade. It's much louder than our Festival of States Parade, because pirates, as you know, have to shoot guns and their floats have to shoot cannons. Besides, everyone knows that firing explosives under a bridge makes them even louder.

This parade is much like Mardi Gras in that every one of the "pirates" involved is loaded down with beads. We had a wonderful view, up on the steps to the bridge, of greed in action. The streets were lined with outstretched hands of children and adults screaming and begging for plastic beads. Usually the adults could beat out the children because the adults are bigger. The police make a valiant effort at crowd control, but who is going to arrest a bunch of revelers unless they get really obnoxious? In our sight, one fellow

qualified and was quietly carted off.

Anyway, it was truly colorful, and if you've never been to the celebration, go next year.

If you think you have a busy summer lined up, listen to Jane Ann and Jim Thompson's plans. For starters, since the children are grown and gone, Mrs. Thompson decided to go to Stetson University College of Law this past fall. She got right back into gear and loves it.

Son Jim Thompson Jr. will get his law degree from University of Florida in June.

Now daughter Julie Thompson, who will get her master's degree from the University of Florida in June, and Dwayne Draper, who's with Smith Barney in Tampa, are planning an Aug. 18 wedding.

It's to be an all-family event, with all Mrs. Thompson's nieces and nephews taking part. Amy and Keith Hamilton, children of her sister Cathy and husband, Bruce Hamilton, will be in the wedding party, as will Loral, Caroline and Paul O'Hara, children of Mrs. Thompson's sister Cindy and Steve O'Hara. Then, of course, sister Susan and husband, Rhyder McClure, will be here from New York for the occasion.

As members of the Thompson family are up to their ears in classes, Mrs. Thompson's mother Jane Cordes is lending a hand at coordinating

wedding plans and travel schedules.

Decorative T-shirts are in, and if you'd like to create your own, artist Janet Macfarlane is conducting a weekend workshop at the Arts Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, at a cost of $50 ($45 for members.) You're to bring your own T-shirt. No experience or particular artistic talent required.

The Arts Center is at 100 Seventh St. S, and you can call 821-5623 for reservations.

Kay Wood, nationally known quilter who appears Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. on WUSF-TV, is giving seminars and instructions at Bay Area Sewing, 2890 34th St. N. Ms. Wood, who has written a number of books on quilting, specializes in strip quilting or strip piecing. That's why when she, Jane Hill and Darla Grimes organized a recent Caribbean cruise of some 20 quilters, they called it "Stripping Through the Caribbean."

Ms. Grimes loved the quilting cruise. "It was incredible how many people came through" and expressed interest in their group, she said.

At the cruise director's request, they presented a wearable art fashion show the last night of the trip. If you're interested in hearing one of Ms. Wood's lectures today, her last day in town, call Bay Area at 527-7005

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