So you've seen the Gasparilla parade more times than you care to remember. If you get any more beads you'll have to rent a storage unit.
But you love all the hoopla and would consider it an insult to your town not to go.
Hmmm. What to do?
While it's always fun to just wing it, a little planning can make your Gasparilla experience even more memorable or outrageous, depending on the goal.
Maybe you haven't been on a boat to watch the pirates invade the city? Or you've felt bathroom envy for the people at private parties or corporate tents along the parade route?
Lucky for you, mateys, we've done your homework and compiled a list of some parties happening on and around Gasparilla on Saturday. Don't be surprised if events are sold out.
Worst-case scenario, jump onto Facebook and search for Gasparilla. You'll find a bunch of parties at bars and private homes. Don't know the host? Try befriending him or her. Or just show up with a six-pack and some spinach dip. They'll think you're a friend of a friend. On Gasparilla, that's probably true.
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Parties by land
YARRd Party: Grab beads, grub and grog at the third annual YARRd Gasparilla Party at 829 Bayshore Blvd., between S Boulevard and Inman Avenue. The party runs from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday with 25 kegs, a cocktail bar, private bathrooms, barbecue food and a live band. It's hosted by Aaron Walker, Matt MacGiffert and brothers Will and Luke Morris, who presold most of the tickets through Facebook. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $40.
Tedsparilla VII: When Dr. Jeffrey Tedder bought a house on the corner of Bayshore and Willow Avenue in 2005, he had two choices for Gasparilla: He could either get out of Dodge or throw a party. He opted for the latter. The seventh annual Tedsparilla starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and ends whenever the last float goes by. Guests get up-close views of the parade from his private bleachers, free drinks and, most important, clean bathrooms. Security guards keep the riff from invading. The orthopedic surgeon sends out postcards weeks in advance inviting friends to the party at "Casa Jeffrey,'' 1209 Bayshore Blvd. You need to bring it for admittance. Otherwise, best of luck.
Gasparilla Bash 2012: This party is sold out, but we'll give you the scoop on it anyway in case you can finagle a ticket from a friend. Now in its second year, the party takes over a private home at 901 Bayshore Blvd., between S Boulevard and Edison Avenue. It goes from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and includes live music, a DJ, bathrooms, drinks and food by the Taco Bus. Yes, you read that right. Go to gasparillabash.com for ticket updates or check out the Gasparilla Bash 2012 Facebook page.
Gasparilla Invasion Brunch: Watch from the sidelines as pirates aboard the Jose Gasparilla ship take over the city. The Gasparilla Invasion Brunch is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tampa Convention Center with food and live music. Tickets are $66.36 for adults and $57.01 for children ages 3 to 12. Cash bar. Combo brunch and parade bleacher tickets are also available. gasparillatreasures.com.
Scully's Parade of Pirates Hospitality Experience: It's a corporate tent experience without a corporate name. Just north of Howard Avenue, this tent party includes bleacher seating, a pre-parade buffet of pork, black beans and yellow rice, kid-friendly lunches and snacks during the parade. Adults are $99.07 and children are $80.37. A beer tent is next door. gasparillatreasures.com.
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Parties by sea
Gasparilla on the Tropics Boat Tours: Hot wings and hot bartenders from the Wing House are on tap for the second annual Tropics Boat Tours' Gasparilla invasion cruise. The boat starts boarding from the dock behind Jackson's Bistro on Harbour Island at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and returns at 2 p.m. for a dockside VIP after-party until 10 p.m. Tickets are $125 and include a Wing House lunch buffet, a free Bloody Mary and mimosa bar for an hour in the morning, beads, access to the after-party and discounted admission to Jackson's. A few tickets may be available at the dock right before departure. Admission to the after-party with DJ Knowbody is $10. Pre-Party Booze Cruises are at 5 and 8 p.m. Friday with DJ Chris Craze on the early cruise and the Cyclone Rider band on the later one. Tickets are $35 and include beer and wine. Call (727) 442-7433 or go to thetropicsboattours.com.
Yacht StarShip Cruise: Get a pirate's view of the action aboard one of the Yacht StarShip's cruises from Channelside. The brunch cruise departs at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and returns at 1 p.m. after the invasion. Tickets are $89.95 for adults and $59.95 for children and include brunch, a DJ and a cash bar. The street parade cruise offers a view of the parade along Bayshore. It leaves at 2 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $18.95 for children, plus gratuity and tax. Food and drink are extra. Call (813) 223-7999 or go to yachtstarship.com.
StarLite Princess riverboat: Those wanting to skip the Tampa traffic altogether can go on the daylong Gasparilla invasion cruise aboard the StarLite Princess riverboat. The boat leaves at 8:30 a.m. Saturday from the Vinoy Basin, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, and returns at 8 p.m. Tickets are $154.44, plus gratuity and tax, and include three meals and bleacher seating for the parade. Cash bar. Call (727) 462-2628 or go to starlitediningcruises.com.
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Parties at bars
Gasparilla 2012 Block Party: Nine DJs, including Tony Faline, Paul Santana, Pedro M and Chris Craze, will play throughout the day at the Gasparilla Block Party behind Wings Gone Wild, 3114 W Bay to Bay Blvd. Admission includes four drink coupons, with $3 drafts, $5 cocktails and $5 plates of wings and fries available all day. Tickets are $20 in advance online or $25 at the door. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, with after-hour parties at the Kennedy and the new Manhattan Dolce Bar & Bistro, 4328 W El Prado Blvd., Tampa. Call or text party promoter Johnny Pease at (813) 505-8578 or go to gasparillablockparty.com.
Jackson's Bistro: The waterfront bar opens at 9 a.m. Saturday for early birds who want to be good and warmed up by the time the pirates invade. There's no cover during the day but expect big crowds. The view of the water action is that good. The nightclub hosts Retro House Classics from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. with about 10 DJs spinning favorite house anthems from 2008 and earlier. Free until 9 p.m. A pre-Gasparilla party is Friday with DJ Just Steph, with $4 drink specials and $150 bottle service. Jackson's is at 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa. Call (813) 277-0112 or go to jacksonsbistro.com.
Hattrick's: A block and a half from the parade route, Hattrick's swaps its hockey jerseys for pirate gear for its annual Gasparilla bash. The downtown bar sets up an outdoor party with a DJ and bars. It starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the big rush expected between 3 p.m. and midnight. Wristbands are $5 in advance at the bar or at the door. A live band will perform indoors starting at 5 p.m. Hattrick's is at 107 S Franklin St., Tampa. Call (813) 225-4288 or go to sportsbartampa.com.
Four Green Fields: This is a sure bet for pirate sightings throughout the day. Steps from the parade route, the Irish pub opens at 9 a.m. and starts charging a $10 cover about 11 a.m. Live music begins at 4 p.m., with an abbreviated food menu served all day. It's at 205 W Platt St. Call (813) 254-4444.
MacDinton's: This Soho pub hosts a Post Parade Party with music by the Paper Stanleys starting at 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10, with $5 Herradura tequila drinks and $6 vodka Red Bulls, which after a day of partying might come in handy. For those determined to party all weekend, the bar has a Gaspar Grilla Party from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday with open bar and grill and live music. Admission is $20. MacDinton's is at 405 S Howard Ave. Call (813) 251-8999 or go to macdintons.com.
Gasparilla 2012 Pre-Party: The Hyde Park Cafe brings in DJs Atnarko and Pete Moss, among others, on Friday night. Ladies get in free and can partake in an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m. 1806 W Platt St., Tampa. Call (813) 254-2233 or go to thehydeparkcafe.com.
The Lime: The South Howard Mexican joint will have beer bucket giveaways, a taco stand and DJs starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. It's at 915 S Howard Ave., Tampa. Call (813) 868-5463 or go to thelimetampa.com.
Gentzparilla: The Gentlemen's Society of Tampa Bay, a social club for young male professionals, hosts this fifth annual party and fashion show benefiting the Children's Dream Fund. Look for fashion shows by Orangetheory Fitness, 3Wishes.com and Urban Body Men's Clothing. It's from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Kennedy, 2408 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Admission is a minimum $20 suggested donation. Learn more at gentlemens-society.org.
Thieves of San Lorenzo: For anyone who can't wait for Gasparilla day, this all-female krewe hosts a Pre-Gasparilla Social from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday at Splitsville, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa.
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Parties in Ybor City
Gala Parilla: Considering how many people come into town for Gasparilla, it's odd that there's never been a big event the night before. "There's never been a large, universal event that all the pirates could attend," said Sheila Ryan of Ye Loyal Krewe of Samuel Bellamy. So this year, she did something about it. Her krewe is hosting Gala Parilla, a huge pre-party for krewe members and nonkrewe members alike at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. Sponsored by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism - which is giving away four five-day vacations to the Cayman Islands during its upcoming Pirates Week Festival in November - the event features contests, live music, Caribbean cuisine and a cash bar. There's no cover charge, but you do need a ticket to enter, and you must register to be eligible for the giveaways (the deadline to sign up online is noon Friday). Pirate dress is encouraged from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Cuban Club, 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba, Ybor City. For registration or more information, go to galaparilla.com.
Gancho Tampa: Ybor City's thriving gay nightlife scene will be out in full force for this three-day party, billed as "Gay Gasparilla," at various venues Friday through Sunday. Look for pre-parties on the balcony at Hamburger Mary's starting at 7 each night. Weekend tickets are $77 (or $115 for VIP) and include admission to parties on all three days. See ganchotampa.com for schedule and details.
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- Gasparilla Pirate Fest Invasion
11:30 a.m. Saturday
Thousands will line the downtown Tampa waterfront to watch the spectacle as fully rigged pirate ship Jose Gasparilla sails into the south end of Hillsborough Bay with hundreds of pirates aboard, cannons booming and a massive flotilla of pleasure boats. The ship docks at the Tampa Convention Center about 1 p.m. Free.
- Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates
2 p.m. Saturday
After their invasion aboard the Jose Gasparilla, hundreds of pirates get down to the serious business of the day: tossing thousands of beads to the thousands of people who line the streets along Tampa's waterfront. This parade brings more than 140 units, including 90 floats, marching bands and 50 pirate krewes. It begins at Bay to Bay Boulevard and follows Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein, then north on Ashley Drive and ends at Cass Street. If you don't want to worry about finding a place to see the parade, you can reserve a bleacher seat or get a hospitality ticket. Prices start at $32.71 at gasparillatreasures.com. First-row bleacher seating is sold out.
- Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
The free pirate fest goes all day with a variety of live entertainment and vendors along Ashley Drive, from Kennedy Boulevard to Cass Street in downtown Tampa. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will host the main stage. Entertainment includes Danny Lozada y el Latin Band, Daniel B. Marshall, C'NERGY and the Skycoasters. Get more details at gasparillapiratefest.com.
Private lots throughout downtown Tampa will be open during Gasparilla, with varying rates. The public parking garages at the Tampa Convention Center, under the Crosstown between Florida Avenue and Morgan Street, under the Crosstown east of Morgan Street, on Channelside Drive between Florida Avenue and Morgan Street, Fort Brooke and Whiting Street all charge $10. But the best option, in our experience, is to park far away and hop aboard the TECO Line Streetcar ($5 for an unlimited pass) in Ybor City and ride it into downtown Tampa. Park your car at the Centro Ybor Parking Garage or the Palm Avenue Garage. It's $1 for the first three hours; up to $10 depending on how long it's there. For Ybor City parking information, call (813) 242-5484.
There are portable toilets along the parade route, near reserved parade seating and at the downtown street festival, but plan ahead because lines typically will be long. Publix, 243 Bayshore Blvd., offers its restrooms to the public. Hyde Park Village has public restrooms on the west side of Snow Avenue, as does Kate Jackson Park at Rome and Snow avenues. Facilities at restaurants and bars near the festivities are for paying customers only. Depending on the lines elsewhere, you might find it's worth the cost of a cover charge.
Do not walk around with your red cup of beer. Look for signs about the permitted areas, but the basic rule is if you are at the parade route, you can have an open container. If you are in the neighborhoods, you cannot. Vigilant Tampa police announced new civil citations this week for offenders: $75 the first time, then $150, $300 and $450 for the fourth offense. Underage drinking is still a crime. Beer consumed along the route must be purchased from a parade vendor.
Bring cash because many of the ATMs along the parade route charge steep fees, and most vendors only take cash.
Despite its rowdy reputation, "flashing" for beads is frowned upon. There are kids here, people. But here's a tip we learned from recent years: The crowds on the last segment of the parade downtown are often half the size of those on Bayshore Boulevard, so it ups your chances of catching more beads.
No large coolers or kegs. Open containers are allowed in designated areas only. Absolutely no glass bottles. You can have soft-sided coolers or lunch bags for children or medical needs.
- Remember where you parked
Text yourself where you left your car. Police complain that they are hounded for directions by lost revelers.