100th Gasparilla

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					TAMPA’S GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST TO CELEBRATE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY

400 N. Tampa Street, Suite 2800

n Tampa, FL 33602

n 813.223.1111

n 813.229.6616

n www.VisitTampaBay.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 22, 2003

CONTACT: Kelly Earnest, 813/342-4053 kearnest@visittampabay.com

Tampa, FL – On February 7, 2004, Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Gasparilla is a quirky celebration of the spirit and antics of pirate Jose Gaspar and his merry mates , who reputedly patrolled waters off Florida’s Gulf Coast during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Tampa’s signature event, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest invasion and parade draws approximately half a million people each year. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest blasts off as 700 buccaneers from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla invade Tampa on a fully-rigged pirate ship with cannons booming and flags flying. Hundreds of pleasure crafts flank the ship, defending the city from the plundering pirates. As the pirate ship reaches downtown Tampa, rowdy swashbucklers siege the city and join 120 other krewes as they take to the streets to share their “treasures” of beads and dubloons in a colorful, waterfront parade. Though many disagree as to whether Jose Gaspar is fact or fiction, a Tampa Tribune society columnist who thought Tampa should have a May Day carnival created the pirate-themed festival in the his honor in 1904. Social organization Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was formed to lead the charge, and they originally stormed Tampa by horseback. The Krewe became seaworthy in 1911, later adding the Jose Gasparilla, a 165-foot, black-hulled pirate ship topped by three masts and a towering, 100-foot crow’s nest. The success of early invasions prompted organizers to move the Gasparilla Pirate Fest to its February slot and encourage the creation of additional Gasparilla events. Today, the Gasparilla festivities continue through Febraury, spilling over into January and March. Events include the Gasparilla Distance Classic (Jan. 24, 2004), Gasparilla “Piratechnic” Extravaganza & -MORE-

Page 2 Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest to Celebrate Centennial Anniversary

Children’s Gasparilla Parade (Jan. 31, 2004), Sant’Yago Illuminated Night Parade (Feb. 21, 2004) and Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (March 1-2, 2004). The Gasparilla Pirate Fest has become one of the country’s largest and most unique outdoor celebrations. It has been recognized by Event Business News , and repeatedly named among the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 100 Events. The Gasparilla Flotilla sets sail from Ballast Point at 11:30 a.m., with the J ose Gasparilla docking at the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa at 1 p.m. The 3.5-mile Parade of Pirates begins at 1:45 p.m. at Bay to Bay Boulevard, and travels the length of scenic Bayshore Boulevard before coming to an end in downtown. In addition to the invasion and parade, the Pirate Fest features the Pirate’s Chest Arts & Crafts Show, Gasparilla Midway of rides, games , vendors, and local and national acts performing live on stages throughout downtown. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest is free to the public. However, those who wish to have a front row seat of the invasion and parade can pay $38 - $48 for a buffet brunch at the convention center with reserved seating at the Jose Gasparilla dock and/or $20 for a reserved bleacher seat along the parade route. Consumer information is available via the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.VisitTampaBay.com , 1-800-44-TAMPA or at www.gasparillapiratefest.com. ### Editor’s Note: The Florida State Fair, which takes place at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, will also celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2004. The 100th Florida State Fair will take place Feb. 5-16, 2004, coinciding with the 100th Annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

The Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau is an independent, non-profit membership organization created to attract and serve visitors to Tampa Bay. The mission of the CVB is to create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting, developing and expanding a united visitor industry. Tampa Bay: There’s No Better Way To Do Florida. www.VisitTampaBay.com