TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hats, feathers, beads and corsets were everywhere you looked in Tampa as hundreds of thousands of pirates invaded the city for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest.
“I want to see the costumes, I’ve never seen this,” said Maryann Wilson. “I’m all excited. I feel like a little kid and I’m old lady.”
The love for the city by the bay was real on Saturday.
“How can you not love Tampa?” Wilson asked. “Really?”
The parade of pirates had everyone feeling festive.
“[I like] how the city just comes together and everybody is getting along peacefully,” explained Davey Henderson, a parade attendee. “There’s no brattiness, it’s just everybody loving each other.”
Henderson and Paul Spence get new outfits every year for the invasion — Henderson even makes her own hat.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger ever year,” Spence said. “It’s getting crazier. It’s crowded every year. Thank goodness the city of Tampa is still keeping it going. The police are here doing their job. Thanks goodness for that.”
Float participants enjoyed the parade just as much.
“I think I love throwing beads and walking in the parade,” said Gina Valdez. “And dancing and having a great time and seeing my friends in the crowd.”
The Knights of Saint John firefighters krewe built their float by hand.
“We came down, all the firefighters,” said Joe Chiellini, a retired firefighter. “Between the stereo system, the welding. And everyone knows out there, firemen all have side jobs, right? So we all put it in and the whole krewe just made it happen.”
And everyone got their fair share of beads.
“You see all the people and the community’s just unbelievable,” Chiellini said. “Everybody comes together for Gasparilla.”
To the Tampa Bay area, Gasparilla is a tradition unlike any other.
“It’s Tampa Bay,” Chiellini said. “Just like WFLA. It’s Tampa Bay.”