Forget politics and the price of pretty much everything. Saturday was for partying, and for a day, playing pirate the way only Tampa can.
Upholding the Gasparilla tradition that started in 1904, revelers at what’s become a massive annual street fest got the party started early. Members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla lined up for pirate makeup before the cannon-booming boat invasion and the bead-throwing parade down Bayshore Boulevard. But first, there was the customary brandy-based milk punch to imbibe.
“How gory do you want to be?” Hannah Hutchison asked before applying bloody scars to Krewe member Joe Varner.
“Make it nasty,” he said.
Waiting to board the Jose Gasparilla ship, pirate Rick Rasmussen recalled his first year when he climbed up to the crow’s nest.
“It’s windy and cold and you sway around,” he said. “It’s wild.”
As the day progressed, the breeze stayed cool, the beer kept flowing and the beads did, too. The sun didn’t make much of an appearance, but really, who cared?
David Ramsdell, 75, played drums in the parade back when he was in the Brandon High School marching band. On his 71st Gasparilla, he sat with his wife, Kat, in the same section they had been coming to for years, where fellow parade-goers had become “like a family,” she said.
Hours before the parade, Scott Parlett, 48, set up his own “captain’s chair” — a fold-out inside a Costco shopping cart. He and his group had chips, mini-sandwiches and Jell-O shots Parlett’s mom brought.
“This is like my Christmas,” he said.
”How long do you think you’re gonna do this,” Parlett said a friend asked. ”Until you can’t,” he said.
Party on, pirate.