Gasparilla History

by Michael Abdoney - 01/15/2020 -Tampa

The history of Tampa is lengthy and filled with plenty of exciting information. The festival is the most significant annual parade which attracts over 500,000 people annually.

Why is the festival referred to as Gasparilla?

The name of the festival comes from a legendary pirate who was called Jose Gaspar. The pirate was the last of the Buccaneers. Jose Gaspar terrorized the coastal regions of West Florida in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

When Jose passed on, he left a fortune that was hidden somewhere along the Florida coast. Many have searched for the treasure, but up to today, it has never been discovered.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) is an organization that was founded back in 1904. It was established after the Jose Gaspar story was discovered. The organization is dedicated to enriching the imagination and vitality of Tamp and all the communities that live nearby.

There is a magnificent statue of Jose Gaspar that is erected in Regency Cove Mobile Park.

When did the festival become a significant event of Tampa?

George Hardee and Francis Dodge, the society editor of Tampa, worked together with the government of Tampa. They worked as a unit to foster cooperation and also promote the City, especially it’s 1904 May Day celebration.

When it was heard that the two were working as a coalition, it triggered the establishment of the first Ye Mystic Krewe Gasparilla organization. The group consisted of 40 members. The organization played theatrics organizing fake pirate invasions on Tamp. The original idea of the attack was to merge an event that celebrated Jose Gaspar, a legend pirate with some other crucial elements of the Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals.

The Krewe organization wore costumes that were rented from New Orleans. The group arrived on horseback and played the trick of capturing the City when the festival was being held back on May 4th, 1904.

What type of ship is utilized in the festival’s parade?

The organization first utilized a ship to raid and captured the City back in 1911. But, the group never had a vessel of their own until the year 1937. The name of the ship was called Jose Gasparilla I. In the year 1954, the organization graced the commissioning of the structure, which hosted an entirely made pirate ship, which was referred to as Jose Gasparilla II. The building also marked the group’s 50th year anniversary.

The ship is docked at Tarpon Weigh station for the public to see and take pictures. The vessel is similar to West Indiaman, a ship that was used in the 18th century. The ship is well engineered. It’s made of steel and measures 165 feet long and 35 feet across the entire beam. The vessel also consists of three masts that stand at 100 feet above the ground. Along with a wide variety of interior cabinets and cubbie holes.