17 Things You (Might Not) Know About Gasparilla

January 23, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: City, Culture, Editorial | Tags: Bayshore Boulevard, Gasparilla, Jose Gaspar, Juan Gomez, Ye Mystic Krewe


1. More than 500,000 people will head to Bayshore Boulevard for this year’s celebration. Docking will be at a premium.

2. Most Gasparilla attendees will come from outside Hillsborough County.

3. In past years, the city of Tampa has invested more than $500,000 for setup, enforcement and cleanup at the parade.

4. Expect more than 250,000 beads to be tossed during the day parade alone.

5. There will be about 100 floats in the parade.

6. There will also be more than 50 krewes in attendance. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

7. The economic impact for the weekend could exceed $40 million.

8. In 2007, more than 1,000 police officers were on hand to keep peace. Expect at least that amount this year as well.

9. What are the most common arrests at Gasparilla? Disorderly conduct and fighting.

10. What’s the total length of the parade? 4.5 miles. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

11. When did the first capturing of the city take place by the Ye Mystic Krewe? 1904. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

12. In 2006, there are 289 parking tickets divvied out during Gasparilla. We didn’t know downtown and South Tampa had that many available parking spots to begin with! Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

13. Jose Gaspar probably didn’t exist. His likeness is most likely spawned from famed pirate Juan Gomez.

14. That doesn’t stop people from spreading tall tales about Gaspar. His reign of terror allegedly came to end right before he was going to retire with his vast treasures. He couldn’t resist attacking one more ship, which was actually a U.S. Navy warship in disguise. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

15. How did Jose Gaspar die? He’s said to have wrapped a heavy chain around his waist and neck and then leapt into the ocean with his sword drawn high. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

16. The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship was built in 1954. It’s a replica of a West Indiaman ship. Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers.

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17. So how long is the Jose Gasparilla? It’s 165 feet in length and 35-feet wide, to be exact.