little did we know that our experience of the infamous pirate parade was going to be a big fat huge dud - kind of like the pirate parade fireworks that we got to sit through...more on that later.
the pirate parade is also known as GASPARILLA. its, like, a huge deal here in tampa. the weeks leading up to gasparilla was a marketing frenzy. from the grocery stores, walgreens, billboards, radio broadcast - everyone was going to gasparilla, and they wanted YOU to know about it. its essentially a celebration about when some pirate dude named gaspar took over the state of florida, bringing with him deck hands, booze, beads (an STL favorite!) and wenches...lots of wenches. so many wenches in fact, that they have to break the celebration up into two weekend. one weekend for children i.e. no wenches or booze, but LOTS of pirates and beads. and the second weekend dedicated just for those wenches and drunk deck hands...oh and LOTS more beads, for, you know, "show 'n tell" with the wenches. "hooters. hooters. hooters."
we were pretty determined to get out to the children's pirate weekend. (had we no children, i would also be all over that adult weekend. it's supposedly like stl mardi gras, but on steriods. think a mix of mardi gras and lake of the ozarks "party cove" - hell yeah! amazing people watching, i'm sure). the night before i had justin look/research what the children's weekend was all about. what time, who-what-where, kind of thing. without the damn flashplayer on the ipad, he couldn't really find anything, so he went to a local radio show's website and read that the parade started at 11am. perfect! we can totally make that!
we woke up saturday morning with pirates on our brain! i had heard that people get all dressed up for this sorta thing. so instead of going out and buying something that the kids (and j and i) would only wear this one time, i figured i'd take some old clothes and try to make pirate-esque outfits for everyone. for the most part, i think the outfits turned out pretty great!
we jump in the car and head for the pirate parade, which was located on bayshore. we thought parking was going to be an absolute nightmare so we left a little early hoping to get decent parking and a good parade spot. we get to the nearby park and it's pretty much empty. huh...that's strange. as big as this thing seems to be, you'd think more people would be here by now, considering it's 1030 and the parade is supposed to start at 11am. but whatever. we park, hop out of the car and start making the 1/2 mile walk towards the parade route.
we get down to the parade route and it's like the parade had already ended! other than the sponsors and the corn dog stands, it was a ghost town. i was a little concerned. did we miss it? was it yesterday (friday)? are you sure you got the right time, justin? we're positive it's THIS weekend? where is everyone? why are WE the ONLY ones in costume?? omg.omg.omg. how.em.barassing.
the homes along bayshore are pretty spectacular...these are just a couple along our walk. there are other ones that are like right out of MTV cribs.
the further and longer we walk we start seeing random people...who are dressed as pirates. yes! thank god. justin, can you please check your phone to make sure we have the right time? no. damn iphone has the same problem as the ipad - needs that damn flashplayer thingy to view the "gasparilla" website. shit. shit. shit. well, lets find a spot along the parade route and wait, i guess. it's gotta start soon. i mean it's 11. how much longer are we possibly going to have to wait...can't be that much longer.
well, we wait...
its now 12:45pm. and it's HOT as HELL. conner is starting to overheat, so he takes his shirt off. he's now just a hoosier kid, with cut up pants and a drawn-on mustache with runny eyebrows. a nice little family
no. we have no idea who that guy sleeping behind this pirate bead boat is. didn't even know he was there until i went to edit the photo. a drunken hobo or pirate, or a someone who also passed out from the heat that day waiting for the damn parade to start??
oh...look at that...the parade does NOT IN FACT START AT 11am, like we had thought. rather IT STARTS AT 300PM!! WTF!?? not the answer justin nor i had wanted to hear. awesome.
seeing that our son was about to pass out from dehydration, they offered him a capri sun - again, we came a wee bit underprepared...and a FEW HOURS too early. she continues to inform us that there is a dog and childrens parade at 130pm, down the street, in soho, and then the big parade starts at 300pm followed by the airshow at 600pm and then the "biggest fireworks display you'll ever see" at 700pm.
yeaaaaa...we've been here for over 2 hours, sitting in the hot florida heat, on itchy-ass grass with a son that's about to over-heat. we're not staying any longer.
"thank you so much for this information - but i think we need to get out of here before our son passes out. besides, its nap-time, so he's not only hot and sticky but crabby too. we'll be back for the big firework display(!), i guess"
so we left the parade - with two unfullfilled, crabby children. walking BACK the 1/2 mile to our car, in pirate costume, with comments like "you're done already?" "that's it?! the parade hasn't even started yet!" "if you're leaving, can we have your parking spot??" from the folks we pass by.
yes. we're done already.
we know. the parade HASN'T even started yet.
and, you're welcome for the parking spot. hope you get pegged in the head by random flying beads.
yeah...i was crabby too, i guess.
kids were bummed out. i was bummed out. we're all hungry, hot, sweaty, and dressed like pirates. or gypsies. whatever. we stop by subway, grab lunch and head back home, less one pirate parade.
the fireworks were that night though! so we at least had that to look forward to, right!? we were told and read lots of great things about this gasparilla firework display. things like, "this is the #1 firework display in the country!!" so that's pretty cool. that'll definitely be a good show, right?! but that's not until 7. so we'll grab dinner and take that with us to a good fireworks spot later that night.
a few hours go by. everyone's showered and back into civilian clothes. we head BACK out to bayshore / gasparilla fest, grabbing panera bread for dinner. this time, we were prepared! we had the stroller, chairs, blanket, food and drinks! hell yeah, we were going to get something right this weekend! the drive down to the fireworks was a P.I.T.A (pain in the ass). it was like sitting in L.A. traffic. hair pulling exhausting. and add to it that the fireworks started in like 30minutes and we were no where close to parking, much less walking down to the water and finding a spot to watch the fireworks at. ugh...might be another comedy of errors tonight.
we pull down a local street with signs all over it that read "local traffic only" all baracaded up. justin says, screw this(!), we're local for the night. we park the car, grab our ton of things, throw the kids in the stroller with our panera bread and make the walk down to the water.
trash trucks are driving up the boulevard picking up the trash cans, police men are just standing around chit-chatting, its pitch black other than the few street lights, and did i mention, it's pretty much empty!?
"are you sure the fireworks are at 7pm, babe?"
we ask one of the officials and he responds "i beleive they start at 730"
okay, so that's cool. we only got a half hour - but where is everyone!? i thought this was supposed to be like the biggest thing since 4th of july 1777 (the first official 4th of july celebration)!! where's everyone at!?
the fireworks finally start...and i know where everyone's at...at home, in their beds.
the "biggest firework display in the country" was a total snooze-fest. granted, we weren't right up in the action, but still, the cardinals homerun fireworks are bigger than these things! it was a dud...no pun intended.
i went to edit this photo and realized this firework display looked like palm tress :)
that shiney building to the right of the fireworks...that's justins work. that's tampa general hospital. did i mention, he has to take bayshore to get to the hospital (bayshore = parade route = closed) and he was on-call the following weekend, the weekend of the adult pirate parade. he said watching the boats and the partying going on that weekend reminded him of summer at the lake house [lake of the ozarks] :)
sad to say, but that whole saturday was pretty much a dud. the only thing that made our comedy of errors worth it, was the fact that we got to hang out as a family, all four of us, for the day. i love being able to do that. but still, pirates suck. i miss st louis mardi gras.