Friday, January 25, 2013

Party Like a (Responsible) Pirate

Hop aboard with your crew and
let the streetcar steer you to all the Gasparilla fun.
The pirate lads and lasses are donning their gear, and the scene is set for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade to take place this Saturday, January 25th.

If you plan on joining the half-million or so other revelers in downtown Tampa or along Bayshore Boulevard, here are some tips to help make getting there a little easier.

Start with the Streetcar
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: unless your great-aunt Mildred has a house off Bayshore and will graciously let you stash your car in her driveway, parking in the neighborhoods near the parade route is an absolute no-no. As in, they'll tow your car away - no really, they will.

So if great-aunt Mildred isn't an option, your next-best bet is to make riding the TECO Line Streetcar System part of your day of fun!

Here's your first tip: downtown lots and garages will fill up fast, so try parking in Ybor City and hop aboard the streetcar. There are a number of stations that serve the streetcar system along 8th Avenue, and all of them are an easy walk from the Ybor City parking facilities. Please note that if you ABSOLUTELY want to ride the streetcar, boarding at Centennial Park (station #1) is your best bet. Otherwise, continuous HART bus service will be available (for $4) at Streetcar Society and Cadrecha Plaza stations. From there, we'll drop you off at Greco Plaza, next to the Tampa Convention Center and right in the middle of the Gasparilla activities.

All aboard! Next stop Gasparilla!
Another important tip to remember if the streetcar is part of your plans - you'll need to pick up a farecard at one of the Ticket Vending Machines along the route before you board. You can pay by cash or credit card at the machines. If you have questions, HART team members will be out in force to help you navigate the Gasparilla transportation scene.

We stress that you bring small bills (exact change is only provided at Ticket Vending Machines, streetcar motormen and HART bus operators do not provide change).

For the whole scoop on parking locations, rates and other info, check out the parking page on the City of Tampa's website here.

Rubber-wheel it!
Here's another tip to enjoy the Gasparilla festivities: Rubber-wheel it on the HART In-Town Trolley to access even more fun going on throughout downtown Tampa.

The rubber-wheeled In-Town Trolley will be on detour Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the parade and Pirate Fest, and to try some of the wonderful bars and restaurants (ahem, Taco Bus) that have been popping up downtown. You can use the rubber-wheeled trolley to connect to the TECO Line Streetcar System at Dick Greco Plaza near the Tampa Convention Center and take your pirate crew to Channelside and Ybor. It's as if the whole city is at your beck and call (and why not, you are a pirate, aren't you?).

Hop on the Bus, Gus
If you'd prefer to skip the driving altogether, we have a tip for you, too: HART will be running regular bus service on several routes that serve downtown, including Route 7, Route 19 and Route 30, so you can get to the party without any parking hassle at all. Just be sure to note that these routes end service mid-evening, so you'll want to plan your return trip accordingly.

By the way, for you northwest Tampa/Town 'n' Country folks, as well as our pirate-loving friends in Pinellas County, here's a really great tip - park for FREE at the HART Northwest Transfer Center (map here) and ride Route 30 all the way into downtown. How pirate-licious is that?

Make your pirate party fun and safe with HART and
the TECO Line Streetcar System!
And here's the most important tip of all: never, ever drink and drive. Responsible pirate partiers make sure everyone in their crew makes it back to home port safe and sound.

Check out the links below for more info, and have a fun - and safe - Gasparilla.

Click here for HART and TECO Line Streetcar  service during Gasparilla info.

For a map of HART and TECO Line Streetcar services in and around downtown during Gasparilla, click here.

To get more details on all the Gasparilla activities, go to the official event website here.