TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – After last year’s delay and cancellation of the Gasparilla Invasion and the Parade of Pirates due to the coronavirus pandemic, pirates in Tampa Bay were ecstatic to be back along Bayshore Boulevard for their chance to grab some beads.

Folks from all across the United States descended on downtown Tampa to take in the celebrations. All were happy to be back for Tampa’s annual tradition.

“The best party of all time. Ever. In the history of human beings. At least in the last 600 years,” said Michael, who traveled from Chicago to take in the festivities with a friend from Naples.

Erin, also originally from Chicago, took part in her second Gasparilla this year.

“I had heard about it but you don’t believe it until you see it. Sad about last year, but thrilled to be thrilled to be back down this year. Would like a little warmer, but we’ll take what we can get!” she said.

Tammy and her feisty crew, armed with beads and drinks, has lived in Tampa for five years, but is also a northern transplant. She is from Maryland.

“We have friends that come down here every year from Frederick to join us, so this is our annual event and we love Gasparilla,” she said. “It didn’t matter that it was cancelled last year. We still had fun last year. But to be down here again with everybody and watching the boat come in with the pirates is going to be amazing.”

8 On Your Side spotted pirates lining the parade route early, getting their spot for prime viewing.

A group of friends had been in their place near the Publix on Bayshore Boulevard since 9 a.m. For one young man, named Tyler, Gasparilla is a family tradition that’s evolved over the years.

“I’ve been coming here for about 15 years, since I moved here from Maryland with my parents. Come out every year,” he said. “My parents have stopped coming out recently but I always try and bring some friends, see how it goes and have a lot of fun.”

He was joined by a young lady, named Cam, who was experiencing her first Gasparilla.

“I’m excited to see the parade. He mentioned that it was four hours long! I’m excited to see how many floats and what they’re all gonna be. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” she said.

“It’s about getting your spot in pretty close so you can get a good chance at some beads,” Tyler said.