History of Gasparilla...(short version)

 


The name and foundation of Tampa's traditional Gasparilla Carnival come from legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, "last of the Buccaneers," who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the late 18th and early 19th century. Deciding it was time to retire from pirate life, Gaspar had just convinced his crew to split up their accumulated fortune, disband and live out their lives in peace and luxury. But the sight of a merchant ship sailing northwestwardly toward Orleans was all too inviting for the greedy adventure-seekers. To there surprise they had chosen a United States Navy warship in disguise for their final folly. And final it was. A bloody battle ensued, leaving Gasparilla's flagship burning to ruin. As the story goes, just as the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise was boarding the defeated ship, Gasparilla seized a heavy chain, wrapped it around his waist and neck and leaped into the water, brandishing his sword in a final gesture of defiance as he sank into the sea. Gasparilla..the extravaganza. When Jose Gaspar died, he supposedly left an untold fortune in buried treasure somewhere along the Florida coast.

Though that treasure has never been discovered, the story of Gasparilla was reborn and his memory revived in 1904 when Tampa's social and civic leaders adopted the pirate as patron rogue of their city-wide celebration. Miss Louise Frances Dodge, society editor of the Tampa Tribune, was planning the city's first May festival. At the suggestion of George W. Hardee, then with the federal government in Tampa, she decided to develop a theme for the affair based on the legend of Gasparilla. Secret meetings gave birth to the first "Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla," whose forty members planned to surprise the populace with a mock pirate attack on Tampa. Masked and fully-costumed, the first krewe arrived on horseback and "captured the city" during the Festival Parade.

In 1954 the Krewe commissioned the building of the world's only fully rigged pirate ship to be built in modern times. Named the Jose Gasparilla, the ship is a replica of a West Indiaman used in the 18th century. She is constructed of steel at 165' long by 35' across the beam, with 3 steel masts standing 100' tall. During the year she is usually docked at the Tarpon Weigh Station on Bayshore Blvd. for the public's viewing pleasure.

Every year the Jose Gaspar enters into Tampa Bay on its annual Invasion of the city.....the ship is met by a flotilla of boats intent on defending the city.....as the Jose Gasper nears landfall at the Tampa Convention Center....the flotilla clears the way for the ship, knowing they're no battle for the Jose Gaspar....setting the stage for the Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates.....

In the past, Gasparilla has been celebrated on the second Monday in February. A break in tradition came in 1988 with the move to Saturday. The change allows surrounding communities to take part in the celebration. In addition to the traditional invasion and parade, the Gasparilla celebration encompasses a full week's worth of activities held throughout the city. This February, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla will lay siege upon Tampa once again.

for directions & more info....visit the Official Gasparilla Festival site. http:// Gasparillapiratefest.com

For more info and news articles for this year, etc.....check out http://gasparilla.tbo. com

 

 

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