TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 16-time WWE champion and Gasparilla grand marshal Ric Flair stopped by News Channel 8 on Friday to kick off the festivities.

On Saturday, Flair will lead nearly 100 floats, 50 Krewes, seven marching bands, and the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates down Bayshore Boulevard for the 4.5-mile Gasparilla Pirate Fest parade.

The WWE legend told WFLA’s Chris Martinez and Deanne King that “of course” he said yes when offered the grand marshal gig.

“I heard it’s the most glorious party in Florida and this ain’t a lie,” Flair said.

As the grand marshal, Flair said he plans on embracing the spirit of Gasparilla and the Tampa Bay area.

“I’m very honored, actually. I love Tampa. It’s a beautiful city. I’ve gotten to know Sheriff Chad (Chronister),” Flair said. “I’ve travelled around the world, so I’m a good judge of cities, and it’s a great place to live.”

Flair revealed one of the lesser-known responsibilities of the Gasparilla grand marshal: treating guests to meals at beloved Tampa restaurants.

“I’ve been spending a week entertaining people at American Social,” Flair said, “I’ll go to the Meat Market once in a while – now, that’s not good for me. Can’t afford that place, and I know the owner and the manager!”

Of course, no Ric Flair appearance is complete without his signature “drip,” which Flair says will be out in full force on Saturday.

“I’ll be custom-made from head to toe, looking only as I can look,” Flair said with a grin. “Stylin’ and profilin’, limousine-ridin’ and private jet-flyin’. Diamonds are forever – and so is the Nature Boy.”

Flair joked that he’s going to look so good, parade organizers might ask him to come back and serve as grand marshal every year.

“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.” 

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.