TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — WWE Hall of Famer and 16-time heavyweight champion Ric Flair will be the grand marshal for the 2023 Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

This coming Saturday, Flair will lead over 95 parade floats, 50 Krewes, seven marching bands, and the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates down Bayshore Boulevard for the 4.5-mile parade, according to an announcement from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa and EventFest.

“When it comes to this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest Grand Marshal, all I can say is ‘wooooo’ what an addition to our krewe,” said Truett Gardner, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain. “We look forward to having Ric’s larger-than-life personality lead this year’s festivities to an excited crowd along Bayshore Boulevard.” 

Flair will also be joined by this year’s community hero, Green Beret Sgt. Major Matt Parrish. Parrish is the senior enlisted leader for the USSOCOM Preservation of the Force and Family Program. His accolades include three Bronze Stars, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, an Army Meritorious Service Medal, two Joint Commendation Medals, two Army Commendation Medals.

Matt Parrish, this year’s Gasparilla community hero (Photo provided by Crackerjack Media)

“Sergeant Major Matt Parrish exemplifies what it means to be a community hero,” said Steve Bonner, President of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. “His selfless dedication to our country and his fellow service members deserves to be commended, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to recognize his efforts both on the front lines and leading the day-to-day welfare, discipline, security, and training of more than 3,500 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Government Civilians, and Contractors assigned to USSOCOM Headquarters.”

The parade will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday. Reserved tickets are still available for purchase at GasparillaTreasures.com.

You can watch our coverage of the pirate invasion and parade online and on air. Coverage of the invasion will begin on WFLA Now at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. The Parade of Pirates will be broadcast on News Channel 8 at 2:30 p.m.