PARADE: CHILDREN’S GASPARILLA
On Saturday, the wee pirates get first crack at the booty when the alcohol-free kids parade that this year has a corporate name: Ashley HomeStore Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A. Got that? It rolls down Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa with more than 100,000 watching. It’s the first big event to kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has been celebrated in Tampa for more than a century. The parade features a record 135 units, floats, marching bands and beads. Lots of beads. Alas, there are so many this year the mayor launched a stern #BeadFreeBay campaign to remind us not to let those trinkets fall into the briny deep where they can pose a serious threat to marine life. Festivities start at 11 a.m. with a bicycle and pedestrian safety rodeo, a preschooler’s stroll (1-2 p.m.) and an air invasion (noon-3:15 p.m.). The parade runs from 3:30-6 p.m., with WWE star Big Show as grand marshal and Gary Markel, founder of the nonprofit Operation Healing Forces, as this year’s honorary Community Hero. The parade will be followed by a newly choreographed nighttime fireworks show at 6 p.m.
Before you gather your lads and lassies for the voyage, we have tips.
- Pack snacks, water, sunscreen and a bead bag to carry all the loot.
- Arrive early to get a parking spot and drop anchor in a good place along Bayshore Boulevard.
- There are free and paid shuttle options. The free Jolley Roger Trolley runs from noon-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. from the intersections of Platt Street and Bayshore Boulevard as well as Rome Avenue and Bayshore. Meanwhile, a paid shuttle will run a continuous loop from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. from the Fort Brooke Garage at the corner of Franklin and Whiting streets and deliver to Bayshore Boulevard near the beginning of the parade route at Bay to Bay Boulevard and the Crosstown. $10 per adult, children accompanied by an adult free.
- For important Gasparilla event updates, safety tips and traffic alerts, text GASPARILLA to 888-777.
FOOTBALL: EAST-WEST SHRINE BOWL
The best college football players — including the University of South Florida Bulls’ fifth-year senior tight end Mitch Wilcox, widely considered the top draft prospect — are coming to St. Petersburg. They’ll take their talents to the next level in the East-West Shrine Bowl, an all-star game that benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children, played at Tropicana Field and broadcast on the NFL Network. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. Saturday. $15. 1 Tropicana Drive. (813) 281-8686. shrinegame.com.
EPCOT: FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
One of Walt Disney World’s newest festivals, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, returns for its fourth year for a celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts. That means you’ll find creative food, Broadway stars and Disney artists creating pieces on site. You’ll also find “living statues” around the park, and you can even grab a paintbrush and add color to a wall mural along the World Showcase. It’s a kind of paint-by-numbers set on a massive scale that gets more complete as the day wears on. The festival opens Friday and continues through Feb. 24. The Broadway Concert Series this week brings Kissy Simmons, who starred as Nala in The Lion King, and Kevin Massey of Tarzan for three performances a day on Friday, Monday, Tuesday and also later in the festival’s run in the American Gardens Theatre. Players from Newsies, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast will also make visits from Broadway. A dozen festival “food studios” will be set up around the park, making the food extra Instragram friendly, including the sushi doughnut in the Japan pavilion and beautifully arranged desserts with edible flowers as garnish. There are some premium festival experiences such as Paint With a Disney Artist, dining packages or guided tours. But all other events are included with admission, $109 and up. artfulepcot.com.
VINTAGE: ST. PETE TWEED RIDE
Ladies and gents in old-timey vintage clothes like derby hats, petticoats and lace-up boots will take a leisurely bike ride around downtown St. Petersburg for the annual Tweed Ride to raise money to maintain the equally vintage Mirror Lake Shuffleboard Club, founded in 1924. There will be craft beer, cocktails, food, a photo booth and live music by the Junco Royals. $30, $25 members. 2 p.m. Saturday at the shuffleboard club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-2083. stpetetweedride.com.