MacDill makes waves during Gasparilla Pirate Fest

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zachary Foster
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs

More than 30 service members assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, participated in Tampa Bay’s annual Parade of Pirates, Jan. 27, 2024.

The parade is the third largest in America and serves as the main event for Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest. The festival is a week-long event in preparation for the annual Gasparilla Bowl, the largest college football game in the country.

MacDill AFB’s service members contributed a float and aerial demonstration in support of the annual event. Leading the charge was U.S Air Force Master Sgt. Wesley Walker, 6th Communications Squadron Special Missions flight chief.

According to Walker, the tradition for MacDill to create a float started four years ago and has continued to develop over the years. This year, the float underwent a makeover and was renamed the “USS Stratotanker II.”

“The whole setup took three months,” Walker said. “Solving administrative problems, collecting volunteers and funding took a lot of support from the MacDill community. This was a great opportunity for us to showcase MacDill’s support for the local populace and to showcase our Airmen in the third largest parade in the country.”

Champa Boom, the MacDill AFB mascot that resembles a refueling aircraft, was featured alongside the float.

Champa is the newest addition to MacDill AFB’s community outreach program and serves as a family friendly face for the base.

“Champa Boom is an asset to help tell the story of the Air Force and inspire from a fun, educational and engaging aspect, especially to the younger generations,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Danielle Hudson, 6th Air Refueling Wing chief of public affairs. “Champa leaves a lasting impression on kids of all ages.”

MacDill’s participation in the annual celebration serves in support of the ever-growing commitment between the installation and local community.

For more information on MacDill’s mascot and how to build a connection with the base, contact the Public Affairs Office at