TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Swarms of pint-sized pirates are set to invade the streets of downtown Tampa this weekend as the annual Children’s Gasparilla gets underway.

Ye Mystic Krewe’s annual Children’s Gasparilla Parade has been a part of the city’s Gasparilla festivities since 1947. More than 100 costumed krewes, marching bands and dance groups will tromp up Bayshore Boulevard, from Bay to Bay Boulevard, moving north to Edison Avenue.

The event is free to the public, family-friendly and alcohol-free. The parade is preceded by a bicycle rodeo and preschooler’s stroll, and followed by an airshow with a “pyrotechnic finale.”

If you plan to grab the kids and go, here’s what you should know.


Bicycle Safety Rodeo: 12 p.m. to 2 pm.

Preschooler’s Stroll: 2 p.m. For more information, visit the event’s website.

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade (main event): 4 p.m. For more information, visit the parade’s website.

Gasparilla Air Invasion: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. More information is available on the event’s website.

Gasparilla “Piratechnic” Fireworks Show: 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. More information is available on the event’s website.

Who participates?

More than 125 krewes, marching bands, dance groups, school performance teams, and community organizations are expected to participate in this year’s parade. Parade applications were open to the public, but it’s already past the deadline. However, you can still apply to take part in the preschool stroll here.

Where is the best place to watch the parade?

The best way to view the parade is from the sidelines. It will cost you nothing to stand near the parade route, but you’ll want to arrive early to find a spot. There is also bleacher seating along the route. Bleacher and First Mate seats are $55 to $70 and are available for purchase at gasparillatreasures.com/p/tickets.

The city says ADA Accessible parking is available on Howard Avenue with a reserved viewing area at Howard and Bayshore Boulevard. You can view a map on the city’s website.

What should I bring?

Your kid will definitely need a backpack to hold all the beads they’ll collect. If you have small children, you’ll probably want to pack the following necessities to keep the day fun and stress-free, and be sure to check the forecast and dress for the weather.

  • Plenty of water
  • Stroller or wagon
  • Backpack
  • Cooler
  • Snacks
  • Diapers
  • Change of clothing
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes
  • Cash

Officials suggest taking a photo of your kid in their parade costume before the event. The photo would be used to help identify your child in the event they get lost in the crowd.


You won’t be allowed to park in neighborhoods near the parade route, but there are a number of public garages and privately-operated lots throughout downtown Tampa where you can park. Some local organizations and companies will also offer parking on their properties.

You can find the garages and view hourly and daily parking rates on the city’s website.

Public transportation

A free trolley will also be available on the day of the event. The trolley will pick up passengers at Platt Street and Bayshore and drop them off at Bay to Bay and Bayshore. It will also pick up passengers at Bay to Bay and Bayshore and drop them off at Platt and Bayshore. The loop will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the event.

HART has a number of bus routes throughout the county, and you can buy an all-day bus pass for $4 online or on board with cash only. No change is provided. For maps and more information, visit gohart.org.