Next weekend marks the 100th anniversary of Tampa's fabled Gasparilla Pirate Fest, so you can expect it to be bigger and bawdier than ever. But there's a way to get a taste of the fun with considerably less fuss. This weekend's Gasparilla Children's Parade and Piratechnic Extravaganza has pirates, beads and fireworks, but it's family-friendly, alcohol-free and far more civilized than its R-rated big brother.
Expect tens of thousands (rather than hundreds of thousands) on Bayshore Boulevard starting at noon Saturday for bicycling and skating safety clinics, followed at 2:30 p.m. by the Gasparilla Air Invasion, including Red Baron Squadron aerobatic performances, an F-16 flyover and the U.S. Central Command Parachute Team. The parade starts at 4:30 at Bay to Bay Boulevard and moves north on Bayshore to Rome Avenue. Get there early and you might even score a free bleacher seat.
A fireworks extravaganza re-creating the fictional sea battle between the city of Tampa and the Pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla starts at 7 p.m. For more information: (813) 353-8108 or www.gasparillapiratefest.com.