TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa’s Young Republicans are on a mission to save Gasparilla. The group is hosting a boat parade this weekend because they say the original event never should have been canceled.
Jake Hoffman with the Young Republicans in Tampa is one of the organizers of Saturday’s event.
“Well, the purpose of the boat parade is to essentially replace the Gasparilla parade that we didn’t get this year,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Krewe of Gasparilla decided it wasn’t going to be safe to hold any Gasparilla festivities.”
But the people who organize the real Gasparilla say they are in no way involved and are even threatening legal action.
This year’s Gasparilla Parade of Pirates and the traditional pirate invasion were canceled by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla because of concerns over the pandemic. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says it was the right decision to make at the right time.
“Ye Mystic Krewe made the decision to cancel Gasparilla for this year and I agree with that,” Mayor Castor said. “We had lengthy conversations about that, focused on community health.”
Hoffman maintains that if a boat parade was safe for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and safe for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it should be safe for them too.
“[I] personally think that boat parades would be safe at any time over the last year, again this is usually a situation where you are on a boat with a family, maybe six people at most. You probably already live with them. It’s outside,” Hoffman said.
A similar event by another group at the same time and in the same waters is being called “Trumparilla.”
Both events are getting pushback from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. They’ve hosted the pirate invasion and parade since 1904.
Ye Mystic Krewe released a statement Friday saying:
“As referenced in our press release dated February 16, 2021, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla made the difficult decision to cancel both Children’s Gasparilla and Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and EventFest do not endorse and are in no way affiliated with the Tampa Young Republican’s boat parade. We have engaged with their event organizers multiple times and requested that any reference to Gasparilla or an Invasion be removed. Any use of the Gasparilla name in this manner is unauthorized and improper, and may be subject to legal action.”
The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship will not be part of this weekend’s events.