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2021 Gasparilla parades officially canceled due to COVID-19

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Posted at 10:10 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 15:00:33-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The 2021 Gasparilla parades have officially been canceled due to COVID-19.

It was previously announced that the parades would be postponed, but now they are being canceled altogether for this year.

The pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) made the call to cancel Tampa's signature Gasparilla Parades planned for April 10 and April 17. The decision resulted from an ongoing dialogue between event organizers, city leaders, and healthcare experts.

"We hoped to safely and effectively hold Children's Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay and Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest, but believe it is our community's best interest to refrain from hosting festivities this year," said Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain Peter Lackman. "The pirate invasion will continue in 2022, with the excitement and revelry that Tampa Bay has come to know and love."

YMKG says cannons will boom once again at Children's Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, and the Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. The closing event, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's Outbound Voyage, will set sail on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor released a statement:

“We have worked with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, EventFest and other community stakeholders to try and determine a safe way to host up to a half of a million scallywags along the Gasparilla invasion and parade routes. Alas, there was no secret treasure map containing the golden solution, so the Krewe made the decision, in the best interest of our community, to cancel this year’s festivities.

Now we have more time here at the City of Tampa to batten down the hatches and roll out the cannons, as there is little doubt those ne’er do well pirates will be after more than the key to the city next year! We will never surrender Lord Stanley or Sir Lombardi!”

Tickets for the 2021 Children's Gasparilla and Gasparilla Pirate Fest are eligible for a refund, or ticket purchasers can elect to roll over a credit on their account to 2022 festivities. Ticket holders who choose to keep the credit on their account will receive an additional 15% bonus in value that can be used towards the purchase of tickets or merchandise. Ticket holders can also opt to donate the value of their tickets to the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Community Fund, which supports scholarships for exceptional high school seniors in the Tampa Bay area, community food programs, and more. Ticket holders will receive further information by email or can contact office@eventfest.com or (813) 251-8844.

This year's cancellation of Gasparilla festivities is not the first in event history. Over the past 107 years, parades were not held for numerous reasons, including when the city had limited public celebrations or during war times.