Started at the beginning of the 20th century, Gasparilla was just a spring festival designed to promote the city. Borrowing an obscure legend of a local pirate rouge, city leaders concocted the Legend of Jose Gaspar. They dressed like pirates and "invaded" the city on horseback. Each year the parade grew and took on a broader civic appeal with more Pirate "Krewes" joining the festivities. Now there are over 40 Krewes devoted to everything from female pirates (something that was explicity banned until the late 20th century), Celtic heritage, sailors, gamblers, Roman Gods and Godesses, Latin heritage, and even one Krewe devoted to the Titanic survivor, the Unsinkable Molly Brown.
The parade itself winds down the the world's longest continuous sidewalk on Bayshore Boulevard at 4.5 miles.
It is a sought to behold. Each year hundreds of thousands of people line Bayshore Blvd and scream for beads. The Gasparilla Parade is the 3rd largest parade in the US behind Macys and the Rose Parade respectively.
As a former Krewe member myself, (shout out to the ladies of the Krewe of Saint Brigit!) it is one of the most fun things I've ever done! If you think it's fun being at the parade, try being IN it! But that's a story for another time.
Basically, Gasparilla is more than just a parade or even season. It's a state of mind. Which brings me back to my jewelry. I am inspired to create some pirate themed designs. This year I actually made some bangles from recycled parade beads. I have a few more ideas that I have to get busy on but for now I have several designs available here on my website or as always at my booth at the
Ybor City Saturday Market, Saturdays from 9am- 3pm.