The annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest invaded Tampa Bay once again on Sat., Jan. 29.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the event with pirate costumes and enjoyed the boats, beads, drinks, music, and food!
For many Bay area residents, Gasparilla Pirate Fest is known for the parades, pirates, boats, beads and parties, but there’s quite a remarkable story behind the famous carnival.
According to GasparillaPirateFest.com, the official Gasparilla web site, the name and foundation of the Tampa’s Gasparilla Carnival come from pirate Jose Gaspar, “last of the Buccaneers.” Gaspar was the legendary warrior who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
“Gaspar, given to calling himself ‘Gasparilla,’ served as a lieutenant in the Royal Spanish Navy for five years until 1783, when, upon seizing command of a Spanish sloop-of-war, he with his fellow mutineers set sail for the Florida straits,” according to GasparillaPirateFest.com. “So the young Spanish aristocrat turned-pirate began an adventurous life as outlaw of the sea.”
After Gaspar died, he is believed to have left an untold fortune and treasure along the Florida coast.
Gasparilla and his story were discovered in 1904, when Tampa’s leaders adopted the pirate as “patron rogue” for their city celebrations.