Pirates Out of Control

A warning and list of expectations for the famous Gasparilla Pirate Parade.


The chaotic enjoyment of Gasparilla, captured perfectly in the picture above. Photo By: Tampa Bay Times

Madison Stites, Staff Writer


There is nowhere else one can go to find drunk, high, and scandalously dressed pirates, except for Gasparilla. This distinguished event is held once a year in the beautiful area of Tampa Bay. It’s a parade of pirates, filled with floats, boats, music, and food and drinks. Over 300,000 people on average flock to enjoy this arrangement of lively chaos. This year I was one of them. Therefore, this a list of what to expect and how to get through the day safely for anyone who plans on making the trip next year.


  • The number one thing to know is that there are thousands of people there. I mean HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. Ergo, there are lines for everything (bathrooms, food, drinks, to get from one place to another). No matter what, there is likely a 30 minute line. Henceforth, I personally recommended to bring people with you to keep you company for the painfully long lines and to make sure that you have someone to watch your back.
  • Pirates love their booty, so make sure to expect scantily clad, sometimes close to naked pirates. This you will most likely notice from minute one. I was surprised to see many in minimal dress in the 60 degree weather. Still, there were a lot of body parts on display, so be prepared.
  • It’s also commonly thought that pirates love their rum, and in Gasparilla they prove that this is true. Be aware that majority of people who are there are drunk or high. By noon I had seen several people passed out, throw up, or struggle to walk in a straight line. Henceforth, it’s maybe not the best place for children (bring your kids out to the children’s Gasparilla that occurs a week earlier). Though, it also means that there are a lot of people who are overly friendly and vocal.
  • Another expectation that is especially vital for any germaphobes out there is that the restrooms are highly disgusting. The high amounts of alcohol consumed mean that people struggle to aim where they do their business, so it’s a complete mess. Just know that you should go before you get there in hopes of avoiding the portable toilets for as long as possible.
  • As always there are haters in the world, and there were quite a few at the Parade of Pirates. Throughout the entire area, there were people holding signs or the Bible, yelling “cut off your head, cut off your arms, repent for your sins” if you fit any of the following criteria: you’re a feminist, wearing yoga pants, you’re a witch, etc. These people spend their time passing out pamphlets about saving yourself from your sins, and returning to God, or you will burn in hell. It may be a wise idea to stay away from the protestors; often a high tension area followed wherever they were.
  • The most important thing to expect is having a good time. As long as one’s safe, it’s hard not to feel the infectious lively energy of the crowd. Gasparilla is for people to have fun. It’s great for people watching, entertainment, and partying.



Gasparilla is definitely something to do once in your life. Though it can be crazy and overwhelming, it’s also a lot of fun and enjoyment. Many of the “pirates” that are there are intoxicated, so it’s important to heed these warnings. If you go next year, just make sure you act wisely and safely.