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2018 Children's Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

At the 2017 Gasparilla Children's Parade, Jeshua Torres, 6, of Tampa puts his pirate's hook to good use as he tries to catch beads during the parade along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.  LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2017)
At the 2017 Gasparilla Children's Parade, Jeshua Torres, 6, of Tampa puts his pirate's hook to good use as he tries to catch beads during the parade along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA | Times (2017)
Published Jan. 18, 2018

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard.

To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has been celebrated in Tampa for more than a century, we have tips on what to pack, what to avoid and how to plan your day.

The adult version of Gasparilla's Parade of Pirates comes next Saturday, a raucous event that is decidedly not for the younger set. The children's parade has been a part of Gasparilla festivities since 1947 and is a bit smaller and less chaotic.

The all-day G-rated event starts off with a bicycle safety rodeo Saturday morning (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), a Preschooler's Stroll (1:30-2:45 p.m.) and an air invasion (2:45-3:15 p.m.). Then comes the parade with more than 100 units, krewes and dance groups (3:30-6 p.m.), a night jump (6:15-6:30 p.m.) and a fireworks extravaganza (7-7:30 p.m.).

This year's grand marshal is Fox 13's chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto, and the community hero is Delonda Walker, the McDonald's general manager whose tip led to an arrest in the Seminole Heights slayings.

The parade starting point on Saturday is at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa.

Tips for bringing little ones

• The Gasparilla Preschooler's Stroll opens two hours before the regular parade, giving the tiniest tykes an opportunity for some fun without the loudest cannon fire and noise. The decorated wagons and bikes are adorable.

• Pack a snack, water and have cash unless you want to pay high ATM fees. No large coolers or glass containers are allowed, but small, soft-sided coolers or lunch bags can do the job.

• If you get there early, it's less crowded on the water side of Bayshore because later in the day you can no longer cross the street. But keep in mind that restroom access may be limited there. Look for a privy before you drop anchor.

GASPARILLA GUIDE: Complete coverage of the pirate invasion and festivities in Tampa

• Bring a blanket or towels to sit on and you can also use them to shade the stroller if your little one conks out at nap time.

• Stock your backpack with an extra bag or two for the kids to hold all their loot and beads. Bring along extra sunscreen and hand sanitizer also.

• If you have pirate gear from Halloween, wear it. Nothing is too much here. And consider decorating your stroller or wagon like a pirate ship.

• The event is free but there are reserved seats available for $50 and up at

• Get updates on traffic and city of Tampa announcements on Twitter by following @cityoftampa. @cot_traffic and @tampapd.

RELATED: Stanley Cup will ride aboard the Gasparilla pirate ship.


Special event rates will be in place for parking in public garages and privately operated lots throughout downtown Tampa and around Bayshore Boulevard. Note that they do tend to fill up early.

• Shuttle service to the parade route from the Fort Brook Garage at the corner of Franklin and Whiting Street will operate from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Cost is $10, children free. The garage opens at 7 a.m.

• Jackson Street Parking Lot, $1.60 per hour with a $9.50 daily maximum and open at 7 a.m.

• Poe Garage, $4 per vehicle and opens at 9:30 a.m. Closes with no entrance or exit from 1 to 6 p.m. Reopens at 6:30 p.m. for those attending 8 p.m. Straz Center show, with a $6 flat rate.

• Royal Regional Lot and Tampa Convention Center Garage, $10 flat rate and open at 7 a.m.

• Twiggs Street Garage, $1.20 per hour with $7 daily maximum and open at 7 a.m.

• All numbered street parking spaces on Kennedy Boulevard and south of Kennedy are enforced up until midnight at the standard hourly rate.

• Another parking option is in Ybor City, where you can take the TECO Line Streetcar into downtown. The Centro Ybor and Palm Avenue Garages will open at 7 a.m. at the standard hourly rate with HART park and ride available from both locations. More information on transit is at

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at Follow @SharonKWn.

FORECAST: Check the weekend's weather forecast while making your plans.

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