TAMPA, Fla. — Crews from the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked with local law enforcement agencies Saturday to keep waterways safe during the 2017 Gasparilla Parade and Pirate Festival in the Port of Tampa.
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a large parade and a host of related community events celebrated almost every year since 1904 in Tampa. It is held late January and hosted by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa, and it celebrates the apocryphal legend of José Gaspar (also known as Gasparilla), a mythical Spanish pirate who supposedly operated in Southwest Florida in the early 1800s.
Agency crew members patrolled the water along the parade route, and played a major role in educating boaters of no-wake zones, restricted areas, boating under the influence and basic boating safety throughout the day.
“A large multi-agency effort goes into the preparation for this event,” said Lt. Greg Marshall, team leader at Sector St. Petersburg’s Vessel Boarding Security Team. “While the event is a lot of fun, it can also be very dangerous if you don’t take the steps to protect yourself, others and the environment. It is our job, while working with our partner agencies, to ensure safety measures are met.”
In addition to vessel safety and security, Coast Guard Auxiliary crews assisted in the manatee watch program for the safety of marine wildlife.
“This parade draws thousands of recreational boaters and spectators each year,” said James Hammond, Tampa resident and spectator at Coast Guard Prevention Department Davis Island during the parade. “It’s really comforting to see all the law enforcement, especially these days, come together to make sure we all are safe.”
During the invasion parade today, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Holly Najarian, lead a multi-agency team which safely guided the Jose Gaspar into the Port of Tampa.