Ready or not, it's Gasparilla - FOX 13 News

Ready or not, it's Gasparilla

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It is such a spectacular sight every year down Bayshore Boulevard, as hundreds of thousands gather to see all the floats in the Gasparilla parade of the pirates.

The children's parade was last weekend and if you think that was a huge crowd, the city expects at least three times that many people will descend on Bayshore Saturday – and that will mean major traffic challenges.

It's time to get your party on as only we can do in Tampa Bay.

"It's a really fun time," said Chris Marker, "seeing everyone with piles of beads up to their necks."

From the outlandish pirate gear, to the millions of beads, this weekend it's all about Gasparilla.

Vendors spent most of Friday loading all their gear into place. Road-closed signs will become familiar sights.

And if you do not have a permit to park on the side roads leading to Bayshore, you will be towed.

"I'm a Tampa native," laughed Jaime Herzig. "I've been here and I know how crazy Gasparilla gets so we are heading out of town."

She has a birthday party to attend, but like many people who are going to Gasparilla, they're hoping to cash-in on parking close to the action.

Herzig's church in Hyde Park is charging for good spaces. Premium parking ranges from 20 to 25 bucks.

"Two blocks, it's the ideal parking spot, and all the money goes to youth for mission trips," said Herzig.

Cheaper spaces further away at garages run as low as $5.

"I enjoy it," said Shane Thorson. "I'm a South Tampa native, so for me, all the busy people and the extras don't bother me."

Thorson and his wife Jareth are happy their yard is not in the main line of fire.

"And the amount of trash and people and folks who don't make it through the day scattered through their yard," said Thorson.

The couple sympathizes with their neighbors who invested in major fencing.

"Has your yard been a victim?" we asked. "No, no," he laughed gratefully. "As of yet, no."

TPD has several mobile camera units to keep you safe this year. Each of the units has three to four cameras perched high on top of a telescoping mast, giving Tampa police a total of 19 different views high above the Gasparilla parades, which is comforting to the couple, who missed last year's fun.

They are bravely bringing their 9-month-old baby girl Elina to the parade Saturday.

"Is Elina ready for that?" we asked. "I don't think so," said Jareth Thorson. "Maybe we come, see somebody and go back home."

"To bring my little one for the first time, that'll make this year special," said Shane Thorson.

Watch for the flashing blue lights on those units, because officers will be watching your every move. There will also be plenty of patrols on the ground and on horseback, so let's hope it's a fun and safe party for everyone.

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