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Revelers in festive dress fill downtown Tampa, Florida, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Jan 27, 2024, 12:45 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Revelers clad in pirate finery packed Tampa’s waterfront Saturday as a flotilla of boats arrived for the city’s annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

Led by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the invading pirates docked to make a final demand for the key to the city. Once ashore, the festivities celebrating their annual invasion included an afternoon parade through downtown and live music.

A fixture nearly every year since 1904, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is named for the mythical pirate Jose Gaspar. There’s not much evidence he actually existed, but according to legend he plundered ships and captured hostages in the Gulf of Mexico from the 1780s until around 1821.

The colorful account of his supposed life first surfaced in the early 1900s in an advertising brochure for the Gasparilla Inn, which was located south of Tampa in Boca Grande at the end of a rail line and in need of an exciting promotion.

Called the “Last of the Buccaneers,” Gaspar’s memory lives on in the name of Tampa Bay’s NFL team.

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Revelers in festive dress fill downtown Tampa, Florida, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest