The Tale of José Gaspar + ye mystic krewe 🏴‍☠️

The mythical origins of Tampa Bay’s loud + proud pirate culture.

Jose gasparilla pirate ship

The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship floats in Downtown Tampa.

Photo by Visit Tampa Bay

Let us spin ye a haunted tale...

Legend has it that near the end of the 1700s, the greedy buccaneer José Gaspar and his Krewe terrorized our tarpon-filled waters. From 1784-1795, they allegedly captured over 35 ships.

However, upon jumping aboard their final target, US Navy men rose from under the deck and attacked. Allegedly, Gaspar went overboard and was never seen again.

Nowadays, every January, the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla storms Tampa in search of their leader’s buried treasure. They demand the key to the city and transform the Bay area into one massive extravaganza.

Gasparilla is like a second Halloween... but just for Tampa Bay. Instead of cats and bats, thousands of Tampanians don pirate costumes and beads to celebrate our quirky city with their neighbors. Last year, more than 300,000 people invaded Bayshore Blvd.

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