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A calmer Gasparilla parade for the kids sans beer and sin

A calmer Gasparilla parade for the kids sans beer and sin

  • Thousands of children with their parents in tow crammed Bayshore Boulevard on Saturday for the Children’s Gasparilla Parade.
  • Joe Chete of Palmetto brought son Terryn, 5, to the parade, and after just a half-hour, beads wrapped the boy’s neck.
  • Diana Soper of Tampa pushed Winston in a stroller as Rosie walked alongside them.
  • “We’re going to go home and take a nap,” said Michaile Stein. “
  • The event is the kickoff of the season of Jos� Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has been celebrated in Tampa for more than a century.

TAMPA — This one is for the tykes and tots. No drinking. No melees. No sins of excess.

@TB_Times: A calmer Gasparilla parade for the kids sans beer and sin

TAMPA — This one is for the tykes and tots. No drinking. No melees. No sins of excess.

There will be time enough for all that next week.

Thousands of children with their parents in tow crammed Bayshore Boulevard on Saturday for the Children’s Gasparilla Parade. Kids and, yes, their moms and dads, too, scrambled to collect a shower of beads during a parade of 100 floats. Tiny pirates under scallywag hats went to battle with plastic swords beneath clear blue skies.

The event is the kickoff of the season of José Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has been celebrated in Tampa for more than a century.

The adult version of Gasparilla, the Parade of Pirates, comes next Saturday, a raucous event that is decidedly not for the younger set.

“This is the safe one,” Brenda Rodriguez of Lakeland said about the children’s parade as she arrived with her daughter, Alessandra, 5, who was decked out in a pirate dress as she stood in wide-eyed amazement at the loud spectacle around her. “I don’t want my little one exposed to too much partying.”

Asked whether she was excited about the prospect of seeing a pirate parade, Alessandra, in keeping with the ancient tradition of childhood, answered with just three words:

“I don’t know.”

The Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll opened two hours before the regular parade, giving the tiniest tykes an opportunity for some fun without the loudest cannon fire and noise.

Michaile and Matt Stein of Tampa pulled their three children, Claire and Gray, both 15 months, and Smith, 3, away from the festivities in a big pirate-ship wagon that dad had built during a couple of nights after his kids’ bedtime. But the family’s day was not yet finished.

“We’re going to go home and take a nap,” said Michaile Stein. “We’ll come back later.”

Diana Soper of Tampa pushed Winston in a stroller as Rosie walked alongside them. Soper considers both her kids. Of course, Winston’s a pug and Rosie a Boston terrier. And their mom took the dogs to the parade because, well, this is a children’s event, isn’t it?

While dogs often run for the hills with all the noise, Winston, who at 14 is older than most of the human children around him, seemed perfectly content.

“He’s deaf,” Soper said. “Can’t hear a thing.”

Joe Chete of Palmetto brought son Terryn, 5, to the parade, and after just a half-hour, beads wrapped the boy’s neck. Job done.

Dad said he won’t be coming to Tampa next week for the big party. It’s just too loud, too crazy, too much.

But Chete, 42, then made a confession about the adult version of Gasparilla that is not meant for a son’s ears. “I used to go when I was younger. It’s really rowdy. But I was rowdy, too.”

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com. Follow @Times_Levesque.

A calmer Gasparilla parade for the kids sans beer and sin

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