Gasparilla Children’s Parade Saturday

The largest parade for kids in the country is happening tomorrow.  It’s the Gasparilla Children’s Parade and it will go from Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard.

The entire day is an alcohol-free event and includes:

* the pre-schoolers stroll

* a bicycle safety rodeo starting at 11 a.m.

* an air invasion

* a family-friendly Gasparilla parade at 3:30 p.m. followed by

* fireworks at 7 p.m…….. lots of BEADS!

In addition, Jose Gaspar comes to life on board the Jose Gasparilla pirate ship in Hillsborough Bay with a  high tech message that will be heard from speakers along Bayshore Boulevard.

SCHEDULE (courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times):

11 a.m. – Event begins, vendors and children’s activities open along Bayshore Blvd., from Bay to Bay to Watrous/Orleans Avenues.
11 a.m.–2 p.m. Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Rodeo. Kids will be fitted with a free, brand new bicycle helmet they can keep (while supplies last), and then use one of the Rodeo’s bicycles to ride through a fun course that teaches road skills.
1:30- 2:30 p.m.  Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll Beginning at Bay to Bay Blvd. and ending at Howard. Children 5 and under have their own chance to strut their stuff. Look for the best little pirate attire and specially decorated wagons, bicycles and strollers.
3-3:30 p.m. Gasparilla Air Invasion features a precision parachute jump from the United States Special Operations Command Jump Team.
3:30- 6 p.m. Children’s Gasparilla Parade begins at Bay to Bay and Bayshore, proceeds north along Bayshore, and ends at Watrous/Orleans Avenues & Bayshore.
7-7:30 p.m. “Piratechnic” Extravaganza fireworks show.

Here’s some tips for navigating the wee pirate invasion:

• Bring food, water and money. No large coolers or glass containers are allowed, but small, soft-sided coolers or lunch bags can do the job. There will be portable ATMs along the route, but most have steep charges.
•Use the shuttles running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The shuttle will pick up at the Fort Brooke Garage, at the corner of Franklin and Whiting Street. The Whiting Street Garage will serve as overflow parking when the Fort Brooke Garage becomes full, however, bus pick-up will stay in the same location (Whiting and Franklin). The shuttle will deliver to two areas along Bayshore Boulevard, near the beginning of the parade route at Bay to Bay Blvd. and the Crosstown or at Watrous Avenue and Rome near the end of the parade route. Cost is $5 per adult, children accompanied by an adult ride for free.
•Or, you can hop on board the TECO Line Streetcar ($5 for an unlimited pass) in Ybor City and ride it into downtown Tampa. Park your car at the Centro Ybor Parking Garage or the Palm Avenue Garage. It’s $1 for the first three hours; up to $10 depending on how long it’s there. For Ybor City parking information call (813) 242-5484.
•If you get there early, it’s less crowded on the water side of Bayshore Boulevard because later in the day you can no longer cross the street. But keep in mind that bathroom access may be limited there. Find your loo before you drop anchor.
• Portable bathrooms will be in place throughout the event site, but lines tend to get long, so plan accordingly. Pack some hand sanitizer.
•Stock your backpack with an extra bag or two for the kids to hold all their loot and beads.
•If you have pirate gear from Halloween, wear it. Nothing is too much here, including plumed tri-corner hats, anchor tattoos and fake parrots on your shoulder.

Reserved tickets are still available for both parades. You can purchase tickets by clicking here. Reserved bleacher seats are $23 each for this Saturday and $35 each for next weekend’s parade. But you will have to pick them up in person at the EventFest Office at “Will-Call” on West Cass Street. For complete details click here: