TAMPA, Fla. — This year's Gasparilla Parade of Pirates will be led by none other than the stylin' and profilin' Nature Boy himself — Ric Flair.
The WWE Hall of Famer, and Tampa resident, will serve as the parade's grand marshal, leading more than 95 parade floats, 50 krewes, seven marching bands, and the infamous Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on Saturday.
“When it comes to this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest Grand Marshal, all I can say is ‘wooooo’ what an addition to our krewe,” Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain Truett Gardner said. “We look forward to having Ric’s larger-than-life personality lead this year’s festivities to an excited crowd along Bayshore Boulevard.”
A sixteen-time heavyweight champion, Flair is regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport. His over-the-top demeanor and extravagant style — known as the "Ric Flair drip" — have made the WWE star a pop culture icon.
Flair will be joined by the Gasparilla honorary community hero, Sergeant Major Matt Parrish.
Parrish, the Senior Enlisted Leader for the USSOCOM Preservation of the Force and Family Program, is a Green Beret. He spent 13 years on the Special Forces operations teams and has completed multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decorated hero is married with three children and enjoys performing with the SOCOM Para-Commandos parachute team.
“Sergeant Major Matt Parrish exemplifies what it means to be a community hero,” Steve Bonner, President of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, said. “His selfless dedication to our country and his fellow service members deserves to be commended, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to recognize his efforts both on the front lines and leading the day-to-day welfare, discipline, security, and training of more than 3,500 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Government Civilians, and Contractors assigned to USSOCOM Headquarters.”
You can catch both Flair and Parrish for Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Saturday, Jan. 28. Check out the event schedule with our all-inclusive guide.