Walk around South Tampa on Dec. 26, and you’ll notice that Christmas wreaths have swiftly been taken down and replaced with beads, skulls and crossbones.
Half the fun of the Gasparilla holiday – and yes, it is indeed a holiday – is dressing up for the occasion. For some, merely incorporating pirate-themed jewelry and red and black accessories is enough. Plenty of South Tampa boutiques, including Juxtapose Apparel and Studio (718 South Village Circle) and Why Not Boutique (3423 W Bay to Bay Blvd.) stock up on fashionable apparel perfect for your parade-day plundering.
But for others, going all-out on the pirate gear is the only way to do it. Krewe members, like on these pages, set the standard for Gasparilla best. Read on to learn more about some of their coolest costumes.
Michelle Akers, Krewe: YMKG
Participant since 2009
Owner, Designer Skin Spray Tan
Akers, married to Dean Akers, tags along with the other wives of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) members during the invasion and parade. “It’s a fun time,” she said. She has collected the pieces of this pirate costume from various retailers over time, but Gasparilla paradegoers can find looks similar to the one on the left at La France (1612 E. 7th Ave.) or Medieval Collectibles (medievalcollectibles.com).
Dean Akers, Krewe: YMKG
Participant since 2002
COO, L.M. Funding
Akers’ costume was custom-made for around $1,000 when he joined YMKG. Similar looks are available at Pirate Fashions (4006 W. Cayuga St.), and the seamstresses at South Tampa Trading Co. (1916 S. Dale Mabry Highway) can help you create a one-of-a-kind pirate outfit. Akers customized his costume even further with unique buttons he creates with his sons, who this year will all be old enough to become YMKG members. Last year he made one with a photo of his granddaughter, Mackenzie, who was born shortly before Gasparilla.
Dr. Randy Feldman, Krewe: YMKG
Participant since 1997
Orthodontist, Feldman Orthodontics
Feldman’s costume was made for him by seamstresses who specialize in performing arts costumes, but he now puts his costumes together by himself. “It’s a lot of fun, as it’s a bit different every time,” he said. He estimates that the original costume cost somewhere between $300 and $600. Now, he accessorizes with what he calls “odds and ends” from his travels to places like Key West, the Caribbean and Las Vegas. He wears beads custom made for him overseas featuring his own Tooth Pirate character.