The Gasparilla-season nighttime party that marches down the streets of Ybor City, known as the Krewe of Sant’ Yago Illuminated Knight Parade, announced on Wednesday that it is canceling its annual event because of coronavirus concerns.
The announcement comes one day after the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates and the Children’s Parade scratched plans for April parades and said they will wait until next year.
The Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago, named after Saint James (Sant’ Yago), the patron saint of Spain, has been crowning a king and holding a parade in Ybor since 1972. It was started by some of the leading businessmen of the historic district, including Cesar Gonzmart, the Columbia restaurant owner. It was founded to honor Ybor City’s Latin heritage and diverse culture.
The krewe had previously postponed the 2021 Knight Parade in hopes that it would be safe to bring together thousands of participants and spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they have set a date for Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, to hold its next Knight Parade.
“We’ve worked closely with the city of Tampa and the parade’s presenting sponsor MOR-TV to assess the potential health risks to the community,” said Ken Willis, krewe member and 2021 parade chairman. “Our board of directors has decided it’s best for our community to cancel this year’s parade, and plan to celebrate safely in 2022.”
Gasparilla and related events that take place every January through March have grown to be Tampa’s signature season. It brings a Mardi Gras-like party atmosphere that draws hundreds of thousands of people to vie for beads and baubles from passing pirates and floats.
Studies in recent years have estimated that Gasparilla and its related events have an economic impact of $22 million to $40 million and that as many as 1 million people attend at least one Gasparilla-related event.
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, which has organized the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates since 1904, announced on Tuesday that it was “in our community’s best interest” to refrain from hosting festivities this year.
On Wednesday, the Sant’ Yago krewe promised that illuminated floats will once again be accompanied by dozens of marching bands, local dignitaries and thousands of participants. But it will be next year before they throw beads to crowds who line Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.
“While hosting the parade is our most visible role, we’ve continued to support our community through our scholarships and a donation to food assistance efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brian Erickson, El Baron XLVII of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago. “We plan to continue to lift up our community in 2021.”
The krewe has been awarding scholarships and made a donation to Feeding Tampa Bay to provide approximately 50,000 meals for local families in need. For more information on the organization visit KreweSantYago.org.
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