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The annual celebration mixes good clean fun with, well, Guavaween.
Published Oct. 27, 2008

Pirates, nurses, corpses and rock stars traipsed up and down Ybor City's Seventh Avenue on Saturday enjoying the bands, vendors and parade floats of Guavaween 2008.

Motorcyclist advocate Abate Florida Inc. kicked off the parade with signs urging people to vote for Mama Guava for president.

Most revelers stuck to conventional costumes and in many cases brought back their old Gasparilla pirate costumes for a second celebration.

But a few paradegoers were brave enough to get political.

Gavin Otsuka and Brian Drozdowski of Fort Myers dressed in turbans and Middle Eastern-style robes with ersatz dynamite belts strapped around their waists and American flags in their hands.

"Originally we were going to pass out flyers about 9/11 Truth, and how most terror organizations were funded by the U.S.," Otsuka head.

The duo said the costumes were well received by the crowd, and they'd posed for lots of pictures by 7:30 p.m.

"I think people get it," he said.

Other groups were strictly looking for laughs with their brand of political humor.

Four men dressed in women's bathing suits and garish makeup carried paper flags that said Beijing 2008 and competition numbers labeled "Russia."

"We're just playing into the stereotype," said Michael Lewis, 50, of Key West. "They are supposed to be big, burly women named Olga and Helga but in actuality they're quite beautiful."

And Devery Murphy decided to skip the subtlety and just wear a Sen. Barack Obama mask with a business suit.

"I wanted to promote the democratic message," the Tallahassee resident said. "So far, I've gotten a couple of handshakes and high fives."

Before the sun set and the booze and sexy costumes came out, miniature princesses, fairies and pirates roamed the streets of Ybor City.

Children and their parents played games and made crafts at stations for the Guavaween Family FunFest. One of the most popular stops was the Lowry Park Zoo's table, which may have held the scariest sight at this Halloween festival: A giant African millipede.

One waist-high princess refused to touch it, even though her mom said it was okay. But just a few feet down, a brave young mermaid held out her blue-polished fingers toward a porcupine. No, not this one, the zoo worker said, so Jade Roth, 3, happily returned to her Spree candies.

The games at Relevant Church's booth outside the Italian Club were another popular stop. Kids could fish for candy, do a ring toss and bowl with a small pumpkin.

Two-year-old Jaelyn Castellano carried the pumpkin right up to the empty liter bottles and dropped it. Not quite bowling, but the booth volunteer smiled and handed her gummy candies.

Her dad, David Castellano, said it was a great way to get out as a family and enjoy the good weather, and "it's one more reason to wear the Halloween costume."

There were no political costumes to be seen at the children's event. The most political the event got was when two Orange Grove Middle School students performed a lyrical dance to Pink's Dear Mr. President.