Looking forward to Gasparilla, one of Tampa’s oldest and most “treasured” traditions? In case you’re not familiar with Gasparilla, here’s a little bit of background on the event: 

  • It is the third largest parade in the United States, and the oldest pirate festival in the world (it’s been taking place since 1904)!  
  • Legendary pirate Jose Gaspar is the namesake of this parade, who terrorized the coastal waters of W Florida during the late 18th and early 19th century. He supposedly left a treasure buried somewhere along the Florida coast (which has never been discovered). 
  • After being cancelled last year due to COVID-19, the pirate invasion will take place this year on January 29th beginning at 11:30am. The parade will follow from 2-6pm. 

While this is a fun event to check out (pirate costumes encouraged!), there are a few things you should be aware of before you set sail to keep you and your mateys safe. 

  1. Stay Hydrated 
  • Drink a lot of water the day before and in the morning before you leave 
  • Non-alcoholic beverages are permitted: Bring cash to buy water from vendors or bring your own water bottle which you can refill 
  • Avoid sugary and/or caffeinated drinks, which will dehydrate you more. Opt for sports drinks, natural juices, or carbonated water instead of soda or drinks with added sugars. 
  1. Practice COVID-19 Safety Precautions 
  • If you’re not already, make sure that you are fully vaccinated and boostered. Call or visit USF Student Health Services for appointment availability.  
  • Consider wearing a mask, especially in places where you can’t adequately socially distance from those around you. 
  • If possible, get tested for COVID-19 a day or two before the event.  
  • If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, avoid attending large gatherings such as this.  
  1. Pack a bag with the essentials 
  • Charged phone 
  • Wallet with ID and Cash 
  • Facemask and Hand Sanitizer 
  • Water bottle 
  • Snacks (opt for healthy snacks that contain more water, such as oranges, apples, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers instead of salty treats) 
  • A piece of paper with your friends’ phone numbers on their in case your phone battery dies. 

*Since Gasparilla can be crowded and hectic, pack light and avoid bringing anything that you don’t want to lose. 

  1. If you are 21+ and choose to drink: 
  • Alternate between water and drinks that contain alcohol and pace yourself to no more than 1 standard drink/hour (12oz beer, hard seltzer; 5oz wine, 1.5 oz liquor) 
  • Don’t accept any drinks from strangers 
  • Keep track of your friends who are drinking to make sure they stay safe and hydrated 
  • Keep in mind that alcohol is permitted only to those 21+ in the designated “wet zones”:
Map of legal areas to consume alcohol at Gasparilla
  1. Get home safe 
  • Note: Because of traffic and road closures, you may have to walk to a safe place for a ride to pick you up.  
  • If you are sober or your crew has a designated driver (e.g. a person who won’t have ANY alcohol/drugs the entire time), make sure you remember where you park by writing down the cross streets or “dropping a pin” on your phone’s maps app. 

Looking for more tips or information? Find the Center for Student Well-Being’s Peer Health Educators at the following events: 

  • Fri Jan 21, 8-10pm: Bulls Nite Out Gas-BULL-Rilla | MSC 
  • Wed Jan 26, 9am-2pm: Bull Market | MSC Lawn 
  • Thurs Jan 27, 2-4 pm | Greek Village
  • Follow @WellnessUSF on Instagram!

Have a great Gasparilla!! Arrgh!