Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Parade Postponed to 2022

Every year, hundreds of thousands of pirates descend upon Tampa, Fla. for the annual Gasparilla parade. But this year, they won't invade the city, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organized by Ye Mystic Krewe since 1904, the group announced this week that the parade will be postponed until 2022, saying that it was in the "best interest of the community," Tampa Bay Times reported.

"Now we have more time here at the City of Tampa to batten down the hatches and roll out the cannons, as there is little doubt those ne'er do well pirates will be after more than the key to the city next year!" Tampa Mayor Jane Castor wrote in a cheeky online statement.

Typically, "Krewes" board floats decked out as pirate ships, and drive down Tampa Bay's Bayshore Boulevard, firing cannons and throwing beads from what looks like pirate ships. And, of course, everyone is dressed up in pirate attire.

The Gasparilla parade is one of the largest in America, capable of attracting up to 500,000 people, according to The Associated Press. It had been scheduled for April, after delays due to the pandemic. The new parade date is set for Jan. 29, 2022. A children's parade will take place beforehand, on Jan. 22.

Gasparilla is an annual event in Tampa, named after Jose Gaspar, a Spanish pirate known as the "Last of the Buccaneers" (hence the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team). The pirate is remembered as having roamed around Florida's Gulf Coast and established a "pirate kingdom" until Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1821.

Gasparilla is just one of many celebrations across the country that has been cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras in subdued fashion, with parades cancelled and bars closed.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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