Friday, January 21, 2011

Ahoy, Mateys! Gasparilla Season Steps Off Saturday

Heading for the Gasparilla Children's Parade? Hop on the
streetcar and make a day of it!
If you're new in town, you might have noticed some strange sights around here lately. Maybe you've wondered why the stately houses in South Tampa are suddenly decked out with the Jolly Roger. Perhaps you've seen pirate costumes in the stores, or heard rumblings about an invasion.

No worries, you've just stumbled into Gasparilla, Tampa's annual pirate-themed celebration!

A regular event since 1904, Gasparilla has grown to a month-long festival that includes a children's parade, night (or is it Knight?) parade, film festival, sidewalk arts festival, half-marathon and other road races, "Piratechnic" fireworks display, and the granddaddy of them all - the Gasparilla Parade and Pirate Fest.

Children's Parade Starts the Show
Tomorrow marks the start of the season as the little ones get their day in the sun with the Gasparilla Children's Extravaganza, featuring the Preschoolers' Stroll, Air Invasion, Children's Gasparilla Parade and "Piratechnic" Extravaganza.

The Preschoolers' Stroll starts at 1:30, with the main parade kicking off at 3 p.m. The parade route runs on Bayshore between Bay-to-Bay and Orleans. Parking restrictions in the neighborhoods around the route are strictly enforced (in other words, don't try it!). Event organizers have planned shuttle service that will take you from the Ft. Brooke parking garage at Franklin and Whiting Streets to the parade route.

And you know what else you can check out at Franklin and Whiting? The brand-spankin' new extension of the TECO Line Streetcar System! With the streetcar dropping you off right at the shuttle pick-up site, you have a whole new set of options for your day. You can park in Ybor City and enjoy some lunch, then hop aboard your shiny yellow streetcar to meet up with the shuttle. Or, make the Channel District your starting point and take the kids to see all the sea creatures inhabiting the Florida Aquarium. From there, you just have a quick streetcar ride to the shuttle stop.

The TECO Line Streetcar System begins operating at 11 a.m. on Saturdays, so you can get an early start on the fun.

It's a whole new world of pirate adventure for you and the family with the TECO Line Streetcar System. Hop aboard and let your little ones enjoy riding the rails as part of your Gasparilla activities.

Click here for more on the TECO Line Streetcar System, including maps, schedules and fares.

For more information on the Gasparilla Children's Extravaganza, click here.

Next week, Gasparilla is in full force with the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Check back with us for all the details on how to plan your party the smart, fun and hassle-free way with HART and the TECO Line Streetcar System.