Shiver Me Timbers! Thousands Watch Tampa Invaded at Chilly Gasparilla

TAMPA, Fla. — The pirates were out in full force Saturday during an eventful and chilly Gasparilla.

This parade has been a tradition in the city for more than 100 years. It all started with one pirate in 1904, sailing across Tampa Bay.

The latest installment included thousands of people braving the wind, the chop and the rather cool weather.

Florida Fish and Wildlife helped police the hundreds of boats tagging along with Jose Gaspar’s pirate ship that descended through the Seddon Channel and into Hillsborough Bay for an “invasion” of Tampa.

“There’s a lot of boats out here, a lot of congestion,” said FWC spokeswoman Ashley Tyre. “There’s people that are driving too fast and weaving in and out of the traffic. People that are weaving in and out of boats. We’re looking for impaired operators.”

Dozens of law enforcement agencies brought their own vessels to help with security and keeping the event safe.

After the 90-minute invasion, there was a delay of about 40 minutes for the 2 p.m. parade after an incident involving two buses carrying people dressed as pirates. Two people were taken to the hospital.

The longstanding Gasparilla tradition brings an element of fun on the water that is in a league of its own. The energy was similar along the parade route, as people were yelling, having a blast and throwing and collecting beads.

The grand marshal of the parade this year was celebrity Mario Lopez, and live music all day helped keep the thousands of visitors entertained.

As for the invasion, don’t worry. The key to the city still belongs to Tampa.

#BehindTheScenes look at the Joint Operations Center inside the Tampa Police Department. Members from different agencies, including the FBI, are monitoring more than 100 cameras along Bayshore Boulevard for the #Gasparilla Parade @BN9

— Jorja Roman (@JorjaRoman) January 26, 2019

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