TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Coronavirus pandemic may have sidelined Tampa’s annual Gasparilla celebration, but that hasn’t stopped an ad hoc celebration from unfolding this weekend in and around the bay waters of Tampa. Local bar owners gear up for a spike in customers over the weekend.
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Tampa’s annual Gasparilla celebration dates back to 1904 as in informal event. By 1913 it had evolved into the stand-alone event resembling what we recognize today. Only a few celebrations since then had been put on hiatus, most notably during World War II, the parade has one again been cancelled, this time due to COVID-19. That hasn’t stopped groups of Gasparilla loyalists from hosting their own Gasparilla-themed boat parade and events on Saturday, April 17.
Eager to shrug off the financial rough waters brought about by the pandemic, local bars and the event group called Downtown Crawlers came together to organize a bar crawl called, ‘Gasparilla Bar Invasion.’ Something the co-owner of Downtown Crawlers, Andreas Neuert says will provide all-day fun, adding, “It’s getting back to a little bit of normal and also, it’s supporting the bars, supporting us as well. I mean, we’ve been shut down for a year!”
Ryan Fitzgerald, the manager at District Tavern, nestled in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa says he’s excited to see everyone come out and celebrate, but doing so safely; which is why he is setting up an outdoor bar to make sure everyone can social distance. Empathizing with Neuert, he says, “It’s definitely been a rough year and we’re just kind of pushing through and work together with a lot of different businesses and different business ideas.”
Neuert, says he’s excited to see familiar faces and watch business pick up. “Our revenue is at complete zero for the last year, so now it’s nice to get back to some events.”
While live music, activities, and pirate-themed drinks have invaded the bay again, Neuert is reminding people to take precautions. “You have to follow each bar’s rules. If they require you to wear a mask, wear a mask. If they are at capacity, come back later.” There should be plenty of pirate-related fun scattered about on Saturday.READ MORE: Anne Heche's Son Mourns His Mother
Fitzgerald says he’s also making some adjustments. “When you come in, we ask you to wear a mask. We moved a lot of our things outside now,” to help practice celebration safety.
Both Fitzgerald and Neuert say they hope regular folks and pirate-y patrons come out and support local businesses on Saturday afternoon. Neuert adds, “We just wanted to get everyone involved and get them to dress up as a pirate like me. This [event] has been on the shelf for a year,” and they’re hoping it’s a blast.
The ‘Gasparilla Bar Invasion’ event will run from noon on Saturday until 11 pm. A note on the website reads:
This Crawl is a little different from our past crawls, due to Covid-19 we will not be having any busses to take you to each bar. The crawl will feature multiple bars for you to check-in at. You’ll be able to check-in between 1pm-7pm. From there you can go visit each bar as you please for as long as you like. There are multiple ways to get around Downtown & South Tampa and from bar to bar. (Scooters, Bikes, Walk, Trolley, Downtowner, Uber, Lyft)
With the price of a ticket, event organizers say invaders will receive:
- FREE Drinks – 5 free welcome drinks at 5 bars of your choice!
- FREE Entry to all participating bars
- Exclusive Food and Drink Specials in EVERY BAR!
- Bar Games – Win drink vouchers and more!
- COAST Bike/HOPR $10 OFF Promo Code.
- FREE Fun – Stock up on happiness for the month ahead!
For tickets, maps and more event information, visit gaspyanyway.com.