In the early 20th century in a number of meetings as secret as pirates themselves, “Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla” emerged. The masked krewe arrived in Tampa with an aim to “capture the city.”
The idea was so successful that the city demanded to make the “mystic krewe” a part of yearly celebrations to replace a previous carnival.
In 1954, the Krewe commissioned the building of the world’s only modern day fully rigged pirate ship. Named Jose Gasparilla, the ship can be found off Bayshore Boulevard.
In the past, Gasparilla was celebrated on the second Monday in February. However, in 1988, the festival was moved as a Saturday parade. In 2002, it was moved to its present home on the last Saturday in January.
Today, Gasparilla includes a children’s parade and a day and night parade. The Mystic Krewe revere their mascot Gaspar as a “hearty old swashbuckler with courtly manners and possibly- just possibly-prankful habits.”
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