As kids, we all loved dressing up as pirates, looking for pretend treasure and watching shows that depicted these fearless ruffians and invaders. Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which takes place annually in Tampa, is a way for us to relive our childhood and to remember Jose Gaspar, the legendary pirate and "last of the Buccaneers" who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida up until the early 19th century.
This year's festival starts on Saturday, January 25. The festival begins at 10:00 a.m. when the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival welcomes visitors and ends at 10:00 p.m. after all of the day's festivities are completed (including the Gasparilla Invasion, the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch and the Parade of Pirates).
A History of Arrests
While this festival is a wonderful time of boats, pirates, parades, and merriment, the fun can quickly be cut short if you are arrested. In the past, many arrests have taken place at Gasparilla.
According to news reports:
- In 2010, there were 415 arrests
- In 2011, there were almost 350 arrests
- In 2012, there were 302 citations and 50 arrests
- In 2013, there were 131 citations and 68 arrests
The majority of arrests that tend to take place at Gasparilla are alcohol-related. Thanks to a city ordinance in 2012, now police can only issue citations to individuals drinking outside of designated wet zones (unless they are underage). A ticket for a first offense can cost you as much as $75.
Restrictions at the Festival
Items banned at the festival include Styrofoam cups, glass containers, and coolers (unless they are small, soft-sided coolers for childcare and medical needs only). Signage specifying the wet zones will be posted throughout the parade route. Police will also be on the lookout for drug substances, fighting, disorderly conduct, and other illegal activity. Police vans will be on site to transport any arrested parties to the Hillsborough County jail.
Other rules include:
- Alcohol may not be consumed from kegs or large vessels
- You must purchase alcohol from vendors
- Property damage, trespassing, driving/ boating under the influence, nudity and public intoxication will not be tolerated
This Year's Increased Police Presence
This year, there is supposed to be amplified police presence, including camera surveillance, more officers stationed along the parade route, and a bomb sweep of all parade floats. The police will also use two "Skywatch" posts to watch all of the events from elevated platforms. Specialized response teams are prepared to be deployed in the event that anything should happen.
Arrested? Speak with Thomas & Paulk, P.A. immediately!
If for any reason you are arrested or receive a citation, you are encouraged to contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. immediately. Our team of criminal defense attorneys has extensive experience representing individuals charged with offenses at the Gasparilla Festival and have personally handled over 7,000 criminal cases. We are prepared around the clock to defend you. Contact us today for a free consultation!