Saturday, January 29, 2011

Surrender the Booty!!

(I wonder if I'll ever get tired of saying that?)  :)

It's time for the annual Gasparilla invasion in my home town.  It’s our own version of Mardi Gras, with krewes and floats and beads and beer and scalawags. There’s an actual flotilla invasion, which anyone with a boat can join, led by the noble pirate ship Jose Gaspar, which is filled with normally staid businessmen dressed to the hilt as swashbuckling pirates, complete with scars, pistols filled with blanks, stuffed parrots and an eye for booty (and believe me, lots of women are willing to show their booty for beads!). Afterward, a long parade down the waterfront; local high school bands, colorful floats, beads flying through the air and ending up in the greedy fists of screaming civilians (with quite a few ending up in the palm trees that line the route).

You see, legend has it that Tampa was once invaded by a dastardly devil named Jose Gaspar, also known as the evil, merciless Gasparilla! This womanizing seadog was the terror of the local seas, from the Panhandle down to Cuba. Back in the late 1700’s, he supposedly sailed right into Old Tampa Bay and conquered the city. And yet, for some reason, back in 1904, our city officials thought it would be a great idea for an annual festival in his honor. (Think Captain Jack Sparrow, speaking Spanish.)

It’s glorious, and fun, and as it's an absolutely beautiful day in Florida, I'm going out to enjoy the parade. I'll come home exhausted and weighted down with beads (but no, I will not surrender my booty!).

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