MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Aargh! Grab yer beads and sharpen ye swords as Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla makes its way to Tampa!
Once the cannons boom on January 26, the invasion of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on the city of Tampa, Florida has begun and the Gasparilla Pirate Festival will be officially underway. Streets will flood with hundreds of thousands of on-looking, swashbuckling pirates drowning in beads as they witness the captain of the ship steal the key to the city from Tampa’s Mayor.
To commemorate the takeover of the city and allow their buccaneers to join them, Ye Mystic Krewe pirates move the celebration to Bayshore Boulevard where they’ll discover the Parade of Pirates, a four and a half-mile long parade of floats, beads, performances of all types and yes, even more pirates.
Before going out to find the best pirate costumes and beads for this annual event, leadership and law enforcement throughout MacDill and the Tampa Bay community want to ensure everyone understands the possible dangers of Gasparilla and know how to stay safe while enjoying the pirate-themed festivities, especially for first-time swashbucklers.
“This is one of the largest parades in the United States and we want you to come out and have a good time,” encouraged Officer Sean Mohabir with the Tampa Police Department and speaker during three Gasparilla safety briefings held here at MacDill Air Force Base, January 10, 2019.
In 2018, there were 17 total arrests, though none of them included members of Team MacDill. It’s important to keep the trend going.
“Gasparilla is Tampa’s pirate Mardi Gras,” exclaimed Capt. Kacie McPhie, a deputy senior intelligence officer with Special Operations Command Central. “It’s a great time with 10 thousand friends you have never met before. Have a PACE plan (Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency), and remember it is a pirate invasion!”
Close to 3,000 law enforcement personnel from various local, state, and federal agencies will be monitoring this year’s event.
“We try to keep it as family friendly and safe as possible,” Mohabir stated. “But remember, no coolers, no open containers and no glass bottles. And I hope that if you see something, you say something.”
More than 300,000 spectators are expected to line the streets to watch the Children's Gasparilla Parade on January 19 and the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on January 26. In order to accommodate the parades, many streets will be closed. The link below will provide you information about the events, street closures, parade routes and other information that will help you enjoy the festivities safely.
• Follow drinking laws and have your photo ID with you at all times
• Check the weather and plan accordingly
• DO NOT bring your own alcohol to the event
• Attend with a wingman; it is safer to attend large events with your buddies
• Stay hydrated
• Have a plan: Call JSADD (813) 828-7433 to arrive home safe
• If you see something, say something!