- Kimberly DeFalco
- Sesail, mascot of the Crewe of Bobbi C. Davis at Gasparilla Pirate Fest
It was a polite crowd — relatively speaking.
Gasparilla 2014 proved to be much tamer than parades of shenanigans past.
With heightened security including surveillance cameras scanning the crowd, the annual Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest Saturday yielded far fewer incidents than in the past.
Sure, there was the usual law-of-averages' stumblers, mumblers, pukers and stone-cold, passed-out revelers but area residents and visitors alike, agreed the atmosphere was tidier.
“We really didn’t see any unruly behavior,” Valrico resident Donnie McLaughlin said. “I was pleasantly surprised that several adults caught beads and then gave them to my children.”
McLaughlin, accompanied by her son Michael, 10, and daughter Dagney, 5, hadn’t attended Gasparilla since she was a child. It was a first for her children.
“It was really well organized with an ovbious police presence,” McLaughlin said.
Tampa Police chief Jane Castor attributed this year’s beefed-up security to last April’s Boston Marathon bombings.
Castor conferred with Boston and Massachusetts' public safety officials regarding enhanced safety measures to prevent similar inciidents.
“We heard first-hand what worked and what didn’t work,” she said.
Police dogs sniffed all 140 parade floats and each vehicle participating in the parade route. Credentials of all participants were scrutinized closely. Police officers perched on raised, cube lifts scanned from above the crowd.
Earlier in the week, Castor referred to the officers as "cops in a box."
According to Tampa police, 42 arrests including three felonies along with 63 open-container citations fell short of 2013’s 68 arrests and 131 citations for alcohol.
Twelve people were arrested for underage drinking and seven people for boating under the influence.
Flanked by several hundred festooned boats and its flotilla,, the 165-foot steel-hulled “Jose Gasparilla”, towed by tugboats, crossed Hillsborough Bay on schedule at 1 p.m.
After docking at the Tampa Convention Center, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates demanded Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hand over the key to the city.
The Parade of Pirates, originating at Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevards at 2 p.m. followed the Bayshore route before ending at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Don Barnes, Executive Director of Ye Old Mystic Krewe estimated Saturday's crowd at 300,000, up 50,000 from 2013.
"Because of the stellar weather and our new pedestrian walking patterns, the flow of the parade was almost flawless," Barns said. "More people also gathered towards downtown for all the festivities but the bottom line is good weather makes for a good parade."
- A family affair as mom and Omni employee Tawanda Foster enlists son, Troy Weeks and daughter, Le'Keysia Hobdy, right, to man the parking lot. The family has been doing it for years.
- Tampa's Kate Hardwick, 20, vies for the prize.
- Pacing oneself is essential.
- Anchored by sandbags, fences protected Bayshore homes and private parties. Noticeably absent from the party scene were Jill and Scott Kelley. The couple hired private security guards to stave off trespassers. Jill Kelley ignited the scandal that led to the downfall of CIA director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen.
- Myles Salustro, 10, orchestrated his third Gasparilla pop-up snack shop as Dad, Darryl and brother Mason, 8, accompany him.
- Mason Salustro, 8, supported brother Myles, 10, while he managed his third Gasparilla pop-up cafe. Myles, who bought all supplies with his own money, ran out of 95% of his inventory (pizza, hotdogs, chips) by the parade's conclusion.
- Siblings Emerson Taylor, 12, and brother Evans, 10, operated their pop-up shop for their third Gasparilla with brother Thax, 5. Featured products included Rice Krispie Treats.
- Drummer Chris Harris participates in his 18th Gasparilla , calling it a "big money day."
- "Wayne", left, and "Jonathan: perched on Platt street accepting donations of rum bongs.
- Nicole Bishop of Riverview Bail Bonds has participated in 20 Gasparillas promoting her business.
- Camped beside a Port-a-let, Tampa's John Grant admitted starting the celebration "a bit earlier in the morning."
- Madeira Beach resident Corey Goeke, 20, chills at his first Gasparilla. Goeke leaves Monday for Ft. Benning, GA to train in the army.
- Patience - according to parade-goers, average wait time - 11-15 minutes.
- Alcohol neutralizer at one of several vendors dotting Bayshore Boulevard.
- With a captive audience, several proselytized their messages.
- Situations change, parade reveler down.
- Red Solo Cup, signature vessel of the day.
- Sprinkled like confetti, empty 5-Hour Energy Drink bottles dotted the landscape.
- Tarpon Springs' Melissa Galbo, 33, feeds 5-month old daughter Haley at the parade.
- Temporary "Lost & Found".
- Swann Ave Market & Deli proprietor Chris Jolley enlisted his mom, Carol to help man his first Gasparilla at the store. Wife Baily, a first-grade teacher at Gorrie Elementary worked the cash register and dad, Bill oversaw the parking lot's barbeque production. By noon, the store's ATM machine was devoid of cash.
- Fort Walton's Shady Grady, left, prepared his fare for several days before setting up at Swann Ave Market & Deli. Bill Jolley, center, and Denmark's Ole Storm helped Jolley's son Chris with Gasparilla festivities.
- Gainesville's David Gillen attends his third Gasparilla. The Mohawk is adorned year-round.
- Eszti Kismartoni accompanied Chicago-based parents Liv and Les Fran for Gasparilla.
- Red Doberman Eszti Kismartoni of Chicago styling mom Liv Fran's outfit.
- Lee Jobinville, 21, of Rhode Island and Tampa's Nikki Hall, 32, hawk their wares on Bayshore.
- Following the parade, revelers chow down curbside before heading downtown.
- Moments following the parade's conclusion, workers addressed the aftermath on Platt Avenue.