TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Grab your beads and your pirate uniforms because Gasparilla season is back this year. Tampa city officials joined first responders to discuss plans and everything you need to know.
"On the 29th of this month, we will invade the City of Tampa!" yelled Captain Peter Lackman of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla at a press conference Tuesday. "We're coming for the key!"
After being cancelled due to the pandemic last year, one of Tampa's biggest events is returning. Gasparilla 2022 is set to roll through downtown Tampa.
"We're back this year. We expect a better and bigger than average parade," said Lackman.
With more than 4 miles dedicated to the children's parade and 6 miles for the main parade route, local law enforcement officials are anticipating large crowds this year. Tuesday, they announced plans to work with dozens of neighboring agencies to make the big event a safe one.
"We'll have our tactical teams out. We'll have our special agent bomb technicians. We'll have our intelligence units," said Michale McPherson, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Tampa.
Tampa Fire Chief Barbara Tipp says lost children are one of their top concerns each year.
"We suggest you take a picture of your children. That way in the rare occasion that you momentarily get separated from them, we can send it out to every agency working out in this event," added Interim Chief Ruben Delgado of the Tampa Police Department.
And with the Omicron variant still a factor, reporters asked if there was any possibility that the parade could be cancelled for a second year straight.
"I hope not. I truly hope not," said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. "We are asking everyone to ensure that they understand their level of personal responsibility." Those who fall ill during the parade are asked to enjoy the celebration from home.
"It is the 200th anniversary of the death of the pirate Jose Gasparilla," said Lackman holding his beaded necklace up in the video. "Why am I telling you this? Because this is the bead that you want to have."
"This year, we will not surrender the city of Tampa to those gnarly Gasparilla pirates. And that is a fact," added Mayor Castor.
For up-to-date changes, parking and traffic notices, maps and more leading up to the big event, officials say you can text Gasparilla to 888777. This will sign you up for updates sent directly to your phone.
The City of Tampa website also has information on the parade routes, parking, wet zones, and the extra streetcar and bus services being offered by HART throughout the season.
Organizers have also compiled useful tips for visitors:
- Plan each event in advance and knowing where you are going to park to save time.
- Once you arrive, officials say you should pick a meeting place so if you become separated, you have a place to meet.
- Text your parking location to your smartphone, with a picture of the cross-street signs as a reminder of where
- It is highly recommended that if you bring a child, you take a picture of your child the day of the event on your smart phone. That way, if they get lost, you can send the up-to-date picture to law enforcement as first mentioned above.
Law enforcement agencies from around Tampa Bay that are working together to ensure that the Gasparilla season is safe and fun for everyone includes the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, St. Petersburg Police, Clearwater Police, Bradenton Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Beverages, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Citrus County Sheriff's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Highway Patrol, Lakeland Police, Manatee County Sheriff's Office, New Port Richey Police, Orange County Sheriff's Office, Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Plant City Police, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Sarasota Police, State Fire Marshal, Tarpon Springs Police, Temple Terrace Police, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and USF Police.
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