Don’t ‘walk the plank’ this weekend during Gasparilla

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hiram Martinez
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Pirate ships, booming cannons, colorful beads with live music and entertainment, what’s not to be excited about?


After having been canceled last year due to COVID-19, Gasparilla is making its long-awaited return to Tampa on Jan. 29, 2022.


Since it first took place in 1904, Gasparilla has grown into one of the largest parades in the nation with crowds ranging from 300,000 to 500,000 people.


However, with large crowds and plenty of Airmen amongst the festivities, the 6th Air Refueling Wing Safety Office raises awareness for safety concerns during the parade.


“Some of the most common issues the Tampa Police Department run into during Gasparilla are: DUI’s, underage drinking, possession of open containers, and battery,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Eardly, a 6th ARW Safety representative. “Anytime you mix alcohol, large crowds, and advertise it as a pirate festival, things can get a little dicey.”


The safety office recommends those in attendance should have a plan in place to decrease the risk of an incident occurring. 


“Planning accordingly is how you get the best of both worlds,” said Eardly. “Knowing that you have a plan in place allows you to enjoy your time at the parade even more.”


Although most Airmen will not be in uniform during the event, the same behavioral expectations apply.


“We want Airmen to have fun and enjoy themselves during the parade,” said Eardly. “However, if you are wondering about what you should or should not do, ask yourself, ‘Would I do it if my commander was standing there?’”


Safety Office tips:


  • Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly
  • Do not bring your own alcohol to the events
  • Wash hands often/Utilize hand sanitizer
  • Follow drinking laws, have photo ID on your person
  • Call JSADD (813) 828-7433 to arrive home safe