Gasparilla Canceled

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Isela Suarez

   The annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest has been officially canceled for 2021 amid the pandemic.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla announced the event’s cancellation in a statement on their website, “Out of an abundance of caution, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) and EventFest has announced the cancellation of Tampa’s signature Gasparilla Parades planned for April 10 and April 17. The decision resulted from an ongoing dialogue between event organizers, city leaders, and healthcare experts.”

   The next Children’s Gasparilla is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, and will be sponsored by Chick-Fil-A Tampa Bay. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest sponsored by Seminole Hard Rock is scheduled for Saturday, Feb.26, 2022.

   Many concerns for businesses have risen because of the event’s cancellation. The decision to cancel the event affects many vendors, hotels, restaurants, and transportation services in Tampa, as they will lose out on tens of millions of dollars that come in from the parade. “Making this decision doesn’t affect us as much as it affects all the vendors,” said Peter Lackman with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

   The owner of a pirate costume business, Tiger Lee, who relies on Gasparilla for 40% of his annual revenue spoke on the topic, “People think I make bank during Gasparilla, but it really just pays for me to do all the slow months from February to September.” Many small businesses will struggle, which is not new amid the pandemic.

   Many people were upset about the cancellation of Gasparilla, as a result there has been an unofficial replacement event called the “Pirate Pub Crawl” set for Saturday, Apr. 17. The people of Tampa are planning to dress as pirates and parade through Tampa bars. The website with information for this event, stayhappening.com, will have a detailed itinerary posted later for the event. The location for the unofficial Pirate Pub Crawl is set at the Sail Plaza in Tampa.

   Gasparilla has taken place and been a tradition in Tampa since 1904. It has been canceled only 11 times over the years. Many people are devastated because the tradition will not be taking place this year, but with the COVID-19 virus still being very prevalent in Tampa safety concerns were the most important factor.