Gasparilla ‘a go’ for now as major parades face cancellations amid pandemic

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates is one of the largest single-day parade events in the United States. But will it still go on as planned in 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic?

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will be a “virtual event” and spectators will not be present for the largest parade in the U.S.

While the Rose Bowl Parade which is held on New Year’s Day in California canceled its annual parade in July.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says the 2021 Gasparilla parade scheduled for Jan. 30 is on for now.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to have a vaccine and really with the wearing of the masks and everything that has been asked of our community and the way that our community has stepped up we will be able to have some form of a Gasparilla celebration,” said Castor.

Darrell Stefany with Eventfest in Tampa plans the Gasparilla Parade and surrounding events each year.

Stefany says planning has to start now for an event as big as Gasparilla.

“Certainly there will be a point in time to look at the event, look where we are, look at the cases are, what the numbers look like and then again what is the responsible way to do things. Nothing will be the same, nothing is even the same as it was in January of 2020,” said Steffany.

Tickets for reserved seating for the Gasparilla Children’s Parade and the Parade of Pirates the following weekend went on sale Tuesday, but Steffany says the bleachers may have vacant rows and family grouping sections to help with social distancing.

“We are in a very dynamic situation with obviously the community health issues that we are monitoring with health officials and the city and we are hopeful that we are going to be able to have Gasparilla as scheduled,” said Stefany.

Mayor Castor says a final decision on the parade may not be made until Jan. 1.

“I would say the biggest factor are the number of positive COVID-19 cases that we have in our community and I would say the day has right to be right around the beginning of the year that decision is made ultimately,” said Castor.

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