TAMPA, Fla. — Andrea McCausland has the after-Christmas sale at JoAnn Fabrics to thank for her friendship with Anne Bartlett.
“It’s actually something that is really not unusual for me,” she said with a chuckle. “We were in the checkout line for 45 minutes.”
The two sparked up a conversation, which led them to work together. Bartlett needed people to help create pirate costumes for Gasparilla in the back room of her shop, South Tampa Trading Company. McCausland had been sewing for years.
It was a match.
“There is a lot of energy in this room,” said McCausland with a smile while ironing skull-covered fabric that would soon become the lining of a Gasparilla vest.
In fact, everyone in the room smiled. Mandy Brown busily ran her fingers across the sleeve of a pirate shirt.
“Maybe our ancestors here were all pirates,” she joked.
Rosemary Saunders did the same.
“I live in Ybor. I love pirates,” she said.
Even Cindy Dauck, who adopted the pirate name “Anna Rosa,” worked needles in and out of a piece she was desperately trying to complete before the annual Gasparilla parade on Jan. 26.
“I do love pirates,” she said. “I live the lifestyle. You either get it or you don’t.”
These women have worked like crazy for months to complete pirate costumes. They are in hot demand as the pirate parade – one of the largest community parades in the world – hits in two weeks.
Good thing they love it.
“Gasparilla is not a seasonal thing around here,” said Bartlett, whose shop is going through its fifth Gasparilla season. “We do something around here every month.”
Dozens of costumes are already been completed and the crunch to finish dozens more before Saturday’s children’s parade begins.
“Let the fabric speak to you. It gives you ideas,” Brow said.
McCausland moved to Utah last summer but returned to Tampa for 10 days to work on costumes. She couldn’t pass up the chance to come back.
“Of course I said yes. (January is) the coldest month of Utah,” McCausland said.
January in Tampa means pirate passion. The passion, for many people, starts at South Tampa Trading Company.
“There is nothing like making pirate costumes for people and helping them turn in to someone else for the day,” Bartlett said.