Gasparilla Time

Once again we are reminded that we are among the few cities lucky enough to have a big signature parade. In fact, it’s a doubleheader. We just had 6-figure crowds lining Bayshore to watch the Children’s Gasparilla. It’s the largest kids’ event in the U.S. It has a sponsor, Chick-fil-A, and ranges from a bicycle safety rodeo and marching bands to an air invasion and fireworks. More than 100 floats and 50 krewes take part. It’s nothing like the children’s parade used to be: a couple of floats and a handful of parent-monitoring tykes on trikes.

One other thing. This is “Seas the Day” Tampa at its best. It even looks like Tampa–black, brown and white–and sounds like Tampa–English and Spanish–as Tampa bead-bearing kids ride in wagons or on their fathers’ shoulders. It’s an alcohol free celebration of Tampa.

Then there’s the big one, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest this Saturday. Only problem: It’s not alcohol free and thus no longer Tampa at its best. While Tampa police have done a laudable job in reining in some of the worst behaviors, a rite of pissage still prevails for too many who begin drinking before noon.

Maybe we don’t need a doubleheader.

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