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'It's perfect': Tampa celebrates Gasparilla's return despite cold

A small craft advisory and cooler temperatures did not dismay people from watching pirates invade Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla — Shiver me timbers! 

Gasparilla paradegoers braved the frigid temperatures for the return of one of Tampa's signature events of the year.

Breezy and chilly conditions were in the forecast with temperatures in the low 50s during the parade.

"It’s very cold than what we’re used to," Alexis Thompson of Tampa said.

The city is expecting a bigger crowd this year with at least 300,000 people and attendants said it felt more crowded than in years past. The parade came roaring back after COVID-19 concerns canceled the parades and events last year.

"We were sitting [home] doing nothing, turning our heads, and for once, you could be with everybody having a good time," Jeffrey Rutch said.

The cold forced some people to ditch the pirate fashion. Parade attendants combined eye patches and pirate hats with jackets and blankets to stay warm. 

While some Floridians did their best to brave the cold, visitors and new Tampa residents embraced it.

"This is my first Gasparilla," Linda Gehring said. "I figured I was going to have fun whether it was warm or cold."

But no matter how low the temperatures may be, Tampanians said they're not willing to break tradition of attending Gasparilla. 

That includes Michael Pitisci, who said he's been attending Gasparilla for 60 years.

"My family’s been here over 100 years. About 1890, my family came here," Pitisipi said. 

For some, the Gasparilla tradition is just beginning. It is for Philip Boldt and his family, who recently moved to Tampa.

"It’s just been really fun so far," Boldt said. "It seems like the whole community comes together."

While the Gasparilla parades are over, events celebrating it will continue through March. 

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