Results tagged ‘ Gasparilla ’
Well, shiver me timbers and wash it all down with a grog of rum and ale. It was time again for the Gasparilla Pirates Invasion and this being the third adult holiday of the year, I had to get on another boat this year. I had a friend who has been trying to get me into his Krewe for about 10 years. I finally agreed if I could venture out on the water again with them this year. He made a few calls and got the okay for me to stowaway on board during the festivities this year.
I got down to the dock behind the Tampa Convention Center and he greeted me on the gangplank to the boat. I loved this boats, it was an old fishing boat that did day charters out into the Gulf of Mexico fro grouper and red snapper. The boat was decorated in red and black and had a pirate feel to it. My buddy was dressed to the nines as a pirate, and he got me a costume top and a leather pirate hat to wear with a huge feather in it. About 50 people had already arrived at the boat ans were in various stages of celebration or cigar smoking.
If you do not know about this annual event in Tampa, it is the celebration of Jose Gaspar, a ruthless pirate who plundered this fine city a long time ago. And being that we are on the Gulf stream just off the west coast of Florida, pirates and scalawags were known to come into port and do pretty much whatever they wanted until the U S put a military garrison in the city. So we have this annual event to celebrate the pirate tradition and the various adult activities that surround it. I had been selected by a local radio station to come out on the water last year and see what it was like from the water-side of the parade.
It was an exciting time and one that stuck in my mind all year. So when the idea came that I should join a Krewe and really see how the event is celebrated by the participants, how could I refuse. The best thing about this Krewe is it was both men and women in the organization, and I was happy as a clam about that fact. I got on board and quickly was presented with a huge bag of booty to throw off the boat during our cruise today. The bag must have weighed about 60 pounds and had T-shirts and beads up the ying yang. So I put the bag down and strolled over to the galley to get a breakfast bagel and a Pepsi and take in the ever changing atmosphere of the boat.
I looked out on the water and saw a sea of glass as the channel was free of boats and the activities were slow and meandering at 9 a.m. But I already knew of what would await me when I got back in at 1 p.m. The scene the year before was chaos mixed with some energetic confusion, and I love it all. So we all boarded the boat, about 125 of us and we began the slow trip out into old Tampa Bay to wait for the lead vessel to arrive from another location. Already the seawalls on both sides of the channel were becoming crowded with people and there were a fair amount of party settings going up at homes bordering the channels streets.
The smell of roasting BBQ and meats were in the air already and I took it in with the sea air and felt amazing today. The boat finally got into the channel area and we were ready to begin some serious fun. The Captain brought out the water cannon and the slingshots and about a few hundred balloons to be filled with warm water. He asked us to do warm water because of the chilly air, and to also be a good surprise when they hit the boats or the people. I liked that idea and my friend and I went up to the top deck to scout out opponents to fire upon.
The Krewe of Roughriders were right besides us and their D J on board was cranking some serious music, The blue uniformed soldier Krewe were all teasing us with their 34 degree Budweisers and rum-soaked cigars. So you know they were the first boat to get a bombardment of balloons and water cannon shots. We all just basked in the warming sun for a bit until the first water balloon hit the side of the railing just beyond us. It was now on like Donkey Kong, and we got the slingshot positioned and began to fire shot after shot. Of course we were taking on shots at the same time, but they did not know we had a water cannon that could boost water 50 yards if we wanted to use it.
I think the Roughriders knew this and got about 30 yards away, just within the range of the slingshot, but far enough for no thrown shots at them. At this time the smaller boats with hordes of women and bead hungry crews began to stroll by the boat. We pelted some with beads and balloons and a few with younger kids got T-shirts and cups and bandannas. A few of the boats also flashed via Mardi Gras style and that got cheers from both boats. No I do not condone that kind of activity, but I am a single guy, so I cheered too.
Anyways, the lead boat finally arrived and we got into line about 4 boats behind them and we started back into the harbor towards the Platt Street bridge area again. Boats were again coming along side and we tossed a huge amount of beads on them and I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the day. From hearing the cannon shots to the firecrackers the air was full of gunpowder smells mixed with suntan oil. A very unusual smell in deed. While we were coming back into the docking area, I saw a huge cabin cruiser with a guy sitting in a dinghy on the stern area. I was so taken back by this I had to have a picture and got my camera out and was laughing so hard at this great antic by the guy.
We slowly got to the mouth of the channel and that same area that earlier in the day you could shake a stick and hit only air was now filled with hundreds of boats and people surrounding the seawalls. We went back up on the top deck and began to throw the rest of our bags full of booty and beads to the waiting crowd. I knew how crowded the dock could be by my past years adventure, but it seemed like there was an endless sea of people this year and I began to get caught up in the energy of the area. Throwing beads and medallions as far as I could to get people away from the seawall as we docked, I finally threw my hat to a cuter, young brunette on the dock.
As we disembarked to a hero’s welcome my buddy asked me what I though of the adventure. I must looked at him in the eyes and asked him where I sign up, I was caught up in the moment and was loving every minute of it. He told me it was not over yet. I did not understand until we were standing in front of a charter bus and he asked me if I wanted to continue this on the parade route. Okay, I am not a fool of course I went on the bus and threw beads to the kids and crowd for about what seemed like 4 hours from Bayshore to the middle of Tampa’s downtown. I had a blast, and I was hooked to become a member of this Krewe from that moment.
Tampa is the only town I know that has this event to this extreme. Town like Destin have the Billy Bowlegs event, but it is not on this grand a scale. If you ever get a chance to attend a Gasparilla event, you should. It will change your life in some ways, but always remember, about 350,000 people hit the streets of Tampa for this event. And even like the pirates that hit the city years ago, you have to plan you day, or you will be gobbled up in the excitement of the event.
All pictures aquired from the RRCollections.
Well, Shiver me timbers and wash it down with a grog of rum and ale. My
adventure at this years Gasparilla Invasion sendoff will remain a huge memory
for me even after the old age and creaking bones take their toll on me. I was a
lucky contestant winner from my favorite rock station, 97X, to board and watch
the Invasion on the Captain Morgans’ flotilla.
It was a fine party boat filled with the likes of pirates and cute ladies,
and a few scalawags for good measures. Everything started out simple and quite
tranquil in the A.M. The boaters’ en mass had not gotten up yet, or gotten into
position near the Platt Street bridge when we took off from the dock at 9 A.M.
The Captain had furnished us with a “what ya want” omelette breakfast and a
nice addition fo beverages before our open seas adventures began. The Captain
greeted us on the dock and gave all the lucky souls a bag of booty to have fun
with during and after our faithful cruise. I have to admit, only the bandanna
made it home with me that day. My pirate hat and few hundred medallions were
heaved at the masses that day. the boat station right in front of us housed the
wild Krewe known as the Krewe of the Sainti Yago They had a killer DJ and the beverage of
choice, even at 8 A.M. was a slightly chilled Bud and a rum-soaked cigar. These
guys were getting primed and ready for a long day of throwing beads, coins and
anything else they could find at the parade watchers from Bayshore to the
hallows of downtown.
About an hour later, we were stationed by the mouth of the point and the
bevy of boats had begun to converge on us for our precious medallions and
T-shirts. Little did they know, that we were armed with water guns, balloons and
a few well placed slingshots to deliver a barrage of water, medallions and fabric
to the lucky ones to venture close to our vessel.
I had one encounter that I am truly sorry for here. I had a huge water
balloon set in my slingshot and shot it towards a boatload of woman who were,
well showing some assets, and I caught the video camera operator right in the
face as she lower the camera. I asked the captain of that vessel to come closer
and I gave her a few T-shirts and medallions for the galliant effort. Now, that
was not the first set of “assets” to be shown, imagined or filmed that day. I
can attest to being a bit befuttled for a few second when a boatload of 20 woman
did a shirt salute to our vessel that made the Captain glad to be an American.
We were using the water cannons ans slingshots to get our fellow Krewes wet
and ready for the upcoming day. It was a blast that I will never forget. It will
be a true memory that I will cherish in my old age and beyond. I got to use my
good arm to sling a few hundred medallons, and I still have really good aim. I had the pleasure of meeting my local Morning show host, Fisher that day,
and he was a great guy to talk to about the Rays, and to show how to use the
slingshot to his advantage. He was a gracious host with the Captain. He had a
event the night before at a local bowling hall, Splitsville, that probably did
not end early, or too late for him and his crew.
I know the Captain provided us with lunch, but I was having too good of a
time drinking my new favorite rum, “Captain Morgan’s Tattoo”, and watching the
festivities from my high perch. The sights and sound of the Invasion are
incredible, ans worth all the early effort and planning to get out there and ride
in with the Mystic Krewe
We were lucky enough to be only a few boats back of the main boat and had a
thrilling time just waving and throwing beads to the boats slowly cruising up
the shipping channel with the vessels. As we neared the Harbor Island area again, the scene was a bit different this
time. Where at 9 A.M. I could swing an anchor around and only hit air, now was a
zoo of beer and babes wanting our beads and medallions.
I know now how the Krewes feel on those boats and parade floats seeing the
masses and masses of people all day long until you finally see the end and just
faint from the excitement and.maybe a few well timed beverages during the trip.
We were slowly getting to the dock again that was vacant when we shoved off, but
now held hundreds of souls waiting anything we could throw to them.
I got carried away and threw my bandanna to a cute multi-colored haired wench who put it
right on her head and paraded around the dock with it. We threw cups, hats,
bandannas’, and the occasional Captain Morgan’s medallions to the masses wanting
everything we had that day. We got off the boat to a hero’s welcome and I rambled out into the day
looking for a great place to catch a few hundred beads. I picked a spot near the
end of the parade route and made sure to have my Captain Morgan’s shirt on, and
a Captain Morgans banner that I ” borrowed” from the boat.
I had a ball getting beads for the kids around me, and the
“Rays” floats pelted me with bags of beads that I threw to the kids and older
kids( like me) around my parade area. I was feeling like a true spirit that day.
Having the time of my life and wishing someone else was there with me the entire
time. She had to stay home that day and watch the kids, but she was with me in
spirit the entire time.
Well, maybe not while I was watching the many “assets” being shown that
day………just kidding. I was feeling great and started to walk back to the
98Rock stage to see the AC/DC cover band when the brunette I threw the hat at
gave me a 6-pack of really good beer( my favorite), and told me I had made her
day by throwing the hat to her. I enjoyed the thought of making a great memory for someone else, and I am
planning on again being a member of the Captains’ crew, if fate deems it for me.
It was a great day.
I got a few hundred beads and met a lot of great new friends and hopefully
future revelers in the Captains good times.
If you ever get the chance to sit by the waterside, or get on a friends’ boat
and hit the Bay for the Gasparilla Invasion, you should run with it. It is an adventure you will not regret, and it will
give you stories for years and years about all the great times on the water that
day. So, mark you calendar for the event in 2009.
The Superbowl will be in Tampa next year, and I guess the Invasion will take
place the day before the big event to make it a weekend to remember for all of
us, and the NFL visitors. I have to go now to the local rum shop and look for my
favorite “tattoo.” It left a true mark on my taste buds. Arggggggggggggggggggg!