Children’s Gasparilla Parade preview

Get ready for the Tampa Bay area’s biggest kid-centered event of the year.

Children aboard a Gasparilla pirate ship float. They are throwing beads into the crowd, dressed like pirates.

Beads at the ready, landlubbers.

Photo via City of Tampa

Ahoy, mateys. What’s that on the horizon? It’s boats, beats, and buckets of fun for all the family.

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade set sail in 1947 as a kid-friendly alternative to the main Gasparilla Pirate Festival, and offers alcohol-free pirate-themed partying for all ages.

This year’s event is coming up on Saturday, Jan. 20, and we’re here to get you prepared for the day:

A timeline of the day

Bicycle + Pedestrian Safety Rodeo: 12-2 p.m.

Bring your kiddo for the no-cost Bicycle + Pedestrian Safety Rodeo, to teach them tips for staying safe on two wheels.

Gasparilla Air Invasion: 12-4 p.m.

Before the pirate invasion on Saturday, Jan. 27, turn your eyes to the sky for an invasion by air. The Gasparilla Air Invasion features planes, parachutes, and other airborne marvels. Another air invasion takes place 6:15-7 p.m.

Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll: 2-3 p.m.

This stroll up Bayshore Boulevard is for the smallest pirates among us (aged 5 and under). It’s too late to apply for this year, but keep it in mind for 2025.

Children’s Gasparilla Parade: 4-6:15 p.m.

This is the big one. Watch floats travel up the 1.5-mile route between Bay to Bay Blvd. and Edison Ave. Get your hands ready — beads will be flying.

“Piratechnic Finale”: 7-7:30 p.m.

End the day with spectacular fireworks, as the mock battle begins between pirates and the City of Tampa. Same time next week?

The mayor throws beads at the Children's Gasparilla Parade. A crowd of onlookers is behind a barrier on Bayshore Blvd.

Beads, beads, they’re good for your heart.

Photo via City of Tampa

Parking + transport

When it comes to getting around, there are parking lots and garages throughout downtown Tampa, each with their own rates.

The TECO Line Streetcar offers free rides into downtown starting at Ybor City, and the event has a separate complimentary trolley.

Don’t forget, Uber, Lyft, and DASH all offer rideshare services in the Tampa Bay area.

Tips for the day

Large crowds can still get chaotic, even without the rum. Here are some tips to plan ahead and make the most of the day:

  • Bring a water bottle, as well as snacks + sunscreen.
  • There are porta-potties around the Bayshore area for the event, but hand sanitizer + wipes are a good idea, just in case of an emergency.
  • If you’re concerned about your kid wandering off, you could write your phone number on their arm in marker, or have it written on a bracelet or necklace.
  • Lost children should be reported to the nearest police officer.
  • Check out more tips from local parents, or answers to FAQs.
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