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Gasparilla kicks off with Children's Parade today -- here's what you need to know

We're clueing you in on everything to keep in mind to enjoy the day.

TAMPA, Fla. — An estimated 120,000 people are expected to hit Bayshore Boulevard for a beautiful Saturday and the Gasparilla Children’s Parade all day.

Event organizers want to remind visitors the children’s parade is a non-alcoholic event.  They say every year people show up with Pirate Punch and other alcoholic beverages and are turned away.

The day kicks off with the Preschooler’s Stroll.  This mini-parade is for kids 5 and under who would otherwise have trouble walking the longer route.  Bring out your decorated strollers and wagons for a half-mile walk down the parade route beginning at Howard and Bayshore.  That begins at 1:30 p.m.

The main children’s parade starts at 3:30. Ten thousand-plus people are expected to participate in the parade itself.  Event organizers are calling this year’s event one of the biggest they’ve ever thrown thanks to an increase in sponsorship money.  

They’re also estimating this will be the LARGEST children’s event of its kind in the country.  The event is free to the public.

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The festivities will wrap up with some Pirate-technics.  Organizers promise this will be the Bay area’s largest fireworks display of the year and will begin at 7 p.m.

This will be a musically choreographed show, so we’re told you’ll want to watch from as close to Howard and Bayshore as possible, so you can hear the music and enjoy the show.

And what about getting there?  Organizers highly recommending you park in downtown Tampa or even Ybor.

Your first option is parking in or around the Fort Brooke Garage.

A family shuttle will be running to provide transportation.  It picks up at the corner of South Franklin and East Whiting Streets.   The shuttle is free for kids and $10 for adults and will take you straight to the beginning of the parade route at Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards.

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If you’d like to walk part of the way from downtown there will also be a FREE Jolly Roger Trolley that will pick you up from Platt Street and take you down the parade route to Rome.  That runs noon-4 p.m. and then will stop running during the parade.  Return trips will resume between 6-8 p.m. back to Platt.

And for anyone who is going to be driving around Bayshore on Saturday morning, keep in mind part of that roadway closes down at 4 a.m. with the rest of Bayshore closing down to traffic at 6 a.m.

For everything you need to know about the pirate festival, go to our Gasparilla page.

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