Friday, January 25, 2013

Gasparilla survival guide: 15 rules of partying at the day parade in Tampa

The Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa is attended by more than 400,000 annually.

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The Gasparilla Pirate Fest, better known as the Gasparilla Day Parade, has been Tampa Bay's biggest annual party for decades.The Tampa parade officially takes place from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but expect people to start showing up at dawn to reserve a spot along beautiful Bayshore Boulevard. Here are 15 rules for having a safe, fun day while surrounded by 400,000 party people.

1. Don't be a bead bully: If you get the urge to push over your neighbor in attempt to grab the shiny object being hurled from the float high above, remember, those beads are basically worthless.

2. Follow the rules of boozing: If you are age 21 or older with valid photo identification, beer along with Captain Morgan Rum and cola can be purchased at one of several Gasparilla Charity Beer Gardens located throughout the event. Despite what you will surely witness as flagrant breaking of the rules, attendees are not allowed to bring their own booze.

3. Bring water: There are more than 100 food, beverage and novelty vendors located throughout the event so you'll survive without packing liquids and lunch. But a couple water bottles and some beef jerky or trail mix stuffed in a pocket or purse always comes in handy. You just can't use glass containers, Styrofoam cups or coolers. Small soft-sided coolers and lunch bags are permitted for childcare needs and medical needs.

4. Bring cash money: All the vendors are cash only so come prepared. If you over-spend, though, there are mobile ATMs located throughout the parade route as well as a few banks and merchants close to or within the event site.

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