Named for legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the 18th and early 19th centuries, Tampa Bay’s annual Gasparilla celebration kicks off each January with pirate-themed events, from a four-mile long parade of pirates to a waterfront half-marathon.
This year’s Pirate Fest gets underway Jan. 25, but you can explore Tampa’s premiere party and its origins from Jan. 17 through Feb. 23, 2014, at the Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., in Tampa, where a new exhibit, “Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition,” displays pirate booty and things of beauty.
The city’s only exhibit of Krewe of Gasparilla memorabilia includes coronation robes, ball invitations, programs, crowns and costumes, as well as vintage photographs of the invasion, parade floats, pirates and royal courts. Of particular interest: a 1950s princess gown designed by Anne Lowe, an African-American fashion designer from Tampa famous for her one-of-a-kind Gasparilla dresses. She later gained fame when she designed and made Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses.
Film footage from the 1920s, "Memories of Gasparilla Festivals," will also be shown continuously.
A National Historic Landmark, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 per adult, $7 for seniors (65+ yrs.), $7 for students and $5 for children (4-12 yrs.).
More info: http://plantmuseum.com.