The Gasparilla parade, the wildest and most anticipated annual party of Tampa Bay, is coming this weekend! Tampa’s biggest (and most infamous) celebration of the year brings pirates, parades, parties and people from all over the country. The Gasparilla Children’s Parade last Saturday was a success, but now the grownup version — notorious for its debauchery — is coming, and public safety is a top concern.
As Tampa prepares for the massive annual pirate invasion festival on January 30, here are a few safety tips and precautions to keep in mind for the Gasparilla adult day parade (Spoiler Alert: bad pirate puns ahead. You’ve been warned!):
Cold Weather, Clothes Leather
Gasparilla brings hundreds of thousands of people together on Bayshore Blvd, and even though the weather forecast for January 30, 2016 is predicting a cold (by Tampa standards) day, having such a large crowd of people packed together so tightly could bring on some serious heat. Wear your pirate coats or jacket to Gasparilla to stay warm, but also make sure not to wear too many layers of clothing underneath so you can cool down if the very unpredictable Tampa weather warms up or while you’re packed in with the crowd.
Hydrate while you Pirate
Alcohol consumption for the grownups on Gasparilla starts early in the morning and continues all day. Whether you will be consuming beer, rum or mead, remember to stay hydrated throughout the day. Carry water bottles or a water container with you throughout the day. Vendors will also be on hand selling more than just alcohol, so be sure to carry cash with you in case you need to hydrate.
Obey the Lawrrrrgh
Gasparilla 2016 will have established wet zones where drinking is permitted within the confines of the parade. However, you must obey the rules and public drinking laws established by the city. The Tampa Police Department will be on hand checking photo IDs and bags, and bringing your own alcohol and coolers to the parade is heavily discouraged. Styrofoam cups and glass containers are not allowed in the parade, so leave them at home. If you’re planning on sailing the Tampa Bay waters with the pirates of the Caribbean, don’t drink alcohol while commandeering your ship.
Bury Treasure in Your Pocket
When doing Gasparilla, it’s smart to carry some gold coins in your pockets. And by gold coins we mean cash, of course. During the daylong Gasparilla parade, you will get thirsty, you will get hungry and you will likely have to pay for parking if you’re bringing your own transportation. While there may or may not be ATM machines available throughout the parade route, it’s highly recommended you bring plenty of cash with you to the parade.
Bring Ye Krewe of Mateys
There’s safety in numbers mateys, so bring ye krewe with you to this here wild pirate parade! Gasparilla is an immense street festival and there will be intoxicated party-goers causing mischief and mayhem — and possibly pillaging and plundering — so be sure to bring friends to the parade and stick together. Besides, Gasparilla is more fun with friends anyway, so don’t fly solo Captain!
Beads and Mead
A friend with beads is not necessarily a friend indeed during Gasparilla. Collecting as many beads as possible is almost a badge of honor to hardcore Gasparilla fans, and intoxicated people sometimes get rowdy while collecting them. It’s hard to believe that grownups could get rabid about useless plastic toy necklaces, but they do during Gasparilla. If you want to show off your bead collection skills by snatching as many as you can, cool, but watch out for flying fists and elbows while the beads are firing your way. Drunk and even sober people do fight for beads during Gasparilla, so if you catch some flying beads at the same time as somebody else does, let them go: It’s not worth the fight! Also protect your eyes and head during the parade, as beads will be flying at your face from all directions during Gasparilla.
It’s Gasparilla, and the grownups — many with weak bladders — will be drinking all day long! Unless your home or a home you will be partying at is on the parade route, you will likely be sharing the many disgusting, unsanitary, claustrophobic portable cubbyholes with tens of thousands of others. Be prepared to wait, as the lines are typically long for the use of the portable toilets. And if you have difficulty holding in your bodily functions when nature calls, don’t pee in public! It may sound like common sense, but people do it anyway and get arrested for it. Make sure you know where the public bathrooms are and if you can’t hold it in, don’t let it out in public!
It’s the best tip we can give you, because that’s what Gasparilla and Tampa Bay are all about!