Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Gasparilla Time!

On Saturday, Tampa held it's annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which is essentially a series of parades, marathon and 5k runs, and other festivities.  Parades are HUGE in Tampa, which I learned pretty much immediately after moving here in 2003.  Lots of people go to the parades and take part in the fun.  Usually it's drunken fun, which is something that sets a Tampa parade apart from most other parades.

Where I come from (hi Holt, MI!), parades are pretty lame.  They're usually less than a mile in length and feature local elected officials, maybe a local beauty queen and some high school marching bands.  If it's a local high school's homecoming parade, there will be real floats made by high school kids representing each class.  Otherwise "floats" are just flat bed trailers decorated with crepe paper, streamers and tissue paper pom poms.  But usually, the beauty queens and elected officials ride in open convertibles.  Nothing too fun about that. 

Tampa, on the other hand, knows how to do parades right, and groups spare little expense to make sure their floats are impressive.  The parade routes are long ( Gasparilla is 4 miles), and there are over 100 floats.  Most floats belong to local krewes who dress in costume and throw copious amounts of mardi gras beads to the revelers.  Thousands of people come out for these parades, and the Gasparilla parade is the biggest parade of the year.

Pete and I were invited to ride on his radio station's float again this year.  Their "float" is really just their monster truck with a decorated flat bed.  Seriously.  Not terribly impressive as floats go, but for a rock station, it makes sense.  Here are a few pictures of the "float"...

Yup, C-L-A-S-S-Y.

The radio station crew - From left, Pete/Kevin Smith, Intern Skidmark, Killabrew, Josh, Lauren, Jesse, Useless/Brett, Norm and Ben.  Psh.  Only one girl.  Such a boys club.

Pre-gaming, a Gasparilla tradition.

Happy couple.  Clad in black.

The hubs throwin' the horns.  What a bad-ass.

I had the pleasure of standing in the bed of the monster truck during the parade, where I threw lots of beads to the crazies.  I tried to be an equal opportunity bead-thrower--I got the kids, the grandmas, the teenagers, of course all of the bead-laden adults.  One guy even threw some REALLY awesome beads back to me that had a big Gasparilla pirate ship pendant!  Thanks dude!

The peeps bringing up the rear.  This is also where the beer was housed.  The guy with the megaphone had the job of throwing us more beer and more beads throughout the parade.  This was hands-down the most important job of all.

Pete again, on the truck and ready to get moving.

Jesse Kage manning the megaphone.  His long, scraggly goatee scares me.

A view of the the parade route ahead of the Mother Trucker.
Yes, that's what they call the monster truck.

A couple of well-dressed pirates.  Argh!

After the parade, Pete and I headed home to shower, then we went to grab a little dinner.  We just came home and crashed afterward--we.were.pooped.  What a tremendous day!  Now I'm nursing a sunburn and a sore bead-throwing arm, but it's a small price to pay for that much fun. 

Happy Gasparilla!


Nichole said...

Love it! We had a blast at Gasparilla, as well! At least that's what I am told ;)

Lauren @ A modern day wife's journey said...

Looks like you had a great time too, great meeting you on Friday :-)

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I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

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