Ybor City exploded with brightly lighted floats, Latin music and shimmying hips Saturday night as Gasparilla's Illuminated Night Parade sashayed through its streets. Astronauts in sleek silver suits rode in a mock space ship, while members of the Krewe of Sant 'Yago, the parade's organizers, strutted their stuff in black velvet cloaks trimmed with gold.
"We're really enjoying this," said 32-year-old Sue Rosin of Ocala, whose toddlers watched wide-eyed as Krewe members strolled by. "The costumes are excellent."
The rhythmic rat-tat-tat of the high school marching bands caught 14-year-old Joseph Kenney's attention. "I haven't gotten around to see everything yet, but I like the music they play."
More than 40 floats and nine marching bands participated in the annual celebration of Ybor's multicultural heritage _ 20 more groups than last year.
The procession, which included Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune and the Rough Riders, began at 7 p.m. and followed Nick Nuccio Parkway to E Seventh Avenue, then moved east to 22nd Street, where the parade ended.
The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce originally sponsored the night parade, and the Krewe of Sant 'Yago took over in 1975, according to parade chairman and Krewe member Harry Moradiellos.
Larry Bogan, 30, and his nephew, Marcus Young, sat on the sidewalk watching the sights. Marcus, 5, liked the floats and the knights with their fancy hats.
"I came for the excitement," Bogan said. "The floats don't mean so much _ I like all the people and entertainment."