TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — Pirates are postponing their 2021 Gasparilla takeover of downtown Tampa because of coronavirus. Ye Mystic Krew of Gasparilla announced the delay in festivities to April 2021, Monday.

Event leaders told 8 On Your Side they’re worried the festival, traditionally held in January, could cause a surge in COVID-19 cases among the community. They said the street parade and flotilla, the country’s largest boat parade, draws 250,000 people to Bayshore Boulevard.

U.S. health leaders warned the most recent coronavirus case surge could peak towards the end of January. Dr. Jay Wolfson with USF’s Morsani College of Medicine told 8 On Your Side crowds crammed together aren’t ideal during a pandemic.

“The calculus of this disease is proximity, congestion and time spent,” he said. “So the more time you or I spend in a congested area, the more likely it is that somebody in that group is gonna be positive and cough or sneeze or yell.”

Wolfson said he’s confident the pirate party will be less risky in the spring.

“I am an optimist, and I believe that if we are capable of exercising discipline and responsibility we should find a way to enjoy the important traditions that this community thrives on,” he explained.

Community members said they’re disappointed about the delay, but understand the importance of COVID-19 safety.

“We could use the money for the city but you know what I’m saying safety first no matter what,” one Gasparilla regular said.