I’ve never been to Spain, but since 1904 my neighborhood has been invaded annually by Spanish pirates. If you’re not afraid of pirates, perhaps you will be if you are among the 300,000 people who accept their invitation to join them this year.
The annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade event can get wilder than normal folks around here appreciate. We’ve seen many a temper flare among the landlubbers as well as the pirates themselves. Along with the fun, there’s always dozens of arrests for disorderly conduct.
As far as I know, we’ve never had an actual murder during Gasparilla, but have you read Secret Justice? If so, you may recognize this scene:
A few years ago, the big parade became too much for the kids. Changes were made. Today, Gasparilla Season begins innocently enough with the Children’s Parade. Kids and their adult supervision have been headed down to the Bayshore for a few hours to get the best seats. The weather’s good today and families should have a great experience.
Tonight concludes with the Piratechnic Extravaganza where you’re likely to see fireworks like these instead of the ones you’ll find in my book, Secret Justice.
Or will you become immersed in Secret Justice instead? Here’s how it starts:
The supervisor pushed the pirate hard with his boot. The man’s head lolled over loosely, revealing a grey-blonde ponytail bound at the base of his skull with a limp, wet ribbon. Even in the weak ambient light, they could both see the bloody depression in the man’s skull where it had been resting on the heavy piece of concrete jutting up out of the sidewalk.
“Miguel, this man is dead,” the supervisor shouted. “Who is this guy?”
Frightened now, Miguel shook his head and lifted both hands, palms up. “I don’t know. I found him here. I don’t know.”
The police labeled him “John Doe” and sent him off to the morgue.
Then what happens? It wouldn’t be fair for me to tell you that, would it?
We’ll be talking about Gasparilla a bit more as the festival unfolds. Do come back to join us. If you’ve been to Gasparilla, what was the craziest thing you witnessed there? Besides pirates invading our city, I mean.
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I have been to the Tampa area, most recently a few years ago, but have never heard of the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion. What fun! Although, not fun for the poor pirate at the beginning of Secret Justice. Hmm, not sure I want to partake in such a dangerous activity. Fun post, Diane.
I just can’t bring myself to go. I’d love to take the boys to the kid’s parade but I’ve heard too many stories of the craziness that ensues. Plus the crowds. *shivers* I am planning to take them on the pirate ship in St. Pete though. Much less chaos. 🙂
Try the children’s parade, Shannon. It’s very tame. Your kids will love it and it’s not any kind of problem. The big parade is definitely not for kids.
sounds like a lot of fun, Diane. a mild version of Mardi Gras, perhaps?
Yes,Louise, that’s what the pirates here are going for when they started this back then. I’m guessing they wanted to be as big as Mardi Gras at one time. I’m not sure how much milder Gasparilla is, though!