Gasparilla postponed: Organizers push Tampa’s pirate celebration back to April due to coronavirus

Gasparilla

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gasparilla, the biggest annual event in the Tampa Bay area, is officially being pushed back a few months in 2021 due to coronavirus, organizers announced Monday.

Gasparilla festivities usually happen in January each year. The 2021 Gasparilla invasion, parade and pirate festival were scheduled for Jan. 30, but organizers said due to the coronavirus pandemic, they decided to push back the festival until April.

The Children’s Gasparilla parade is now scheduled for Saturday, April 10, 2021. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest and parade is set to take place Saturday, April 17, 2021.

“Safety is our most important responsibility,” Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain Peter Lackman said. “In the public interest of restricting events that bring large numbers of people to our community, we have made the difficult decision to postpone. We look forward to celebrating with our mateys safely and responsibly this April.”

Captain Lackman said Ye Mystic Krewe and EventFest came to the decision to postpone after consulting with health care providers and city leaders.

In a statement, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor called Ye Mystic Krewe and EventFest “incredible partners.”

“We appreciate their commitment to keeping our community safe,” Castor said. “Gasparilla is a cherished Tampa tradition – when we come together, we want to ensure we do it the right way.”

The impact of moving the parade will be felt by Gasparilla Krewes and businesses.

Anne Bartlett is the owner of the South Tampa Trading Company. Her business makes custom costumes for krewe members, sells beads and many other specialty items for the parades.

Bartlett says the impact of moving the parade is significant.

“It’s a big deal, a lot of people will be disappointed in this, but I definitely think it’s the right call from a safety standpoint and being respectful of other people’s health,” said Bartlett.

She says many other businesses will feel the impact.

“People that provide costumes, people who do beads, people who are catering events for the day of the parade, and all of us are holding on until the parade,” said Bartlett, who is asking people to support small business to help out during a difficult year.

“I would encourage people to show their support of those unique small businesses by reaching out to them and planning things in advance, purchasing beads in advance, presales, ordering new costume items, keeping our staffs busy enough so we will be here in April when you need us,” she said.

Coronavirus cases have been steadily increasing in Florida, and across the country. The ongoing pandemic has forced organizers of several major events to either cancel or go virtual.

Gasparilla is known for being one of the largest parades in the country. The annual all-day event draws in hundreds of thousands of spectators every year.

According to Ye Mystic Krewe, this is not the first time Gasparilla has been postponed.

“Over the past 107 years, parades were not held for numerous reasons, including when the city had limited public celebrations or during wartimes,” organizers said.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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