These photos show how Tampa’s Gasparilla has changed over 100 years


For over 100 years, Tampa has celebrated the exploits of a fictional pirate named Jose Gaspar with a giant festival and parades, and over that span of time the spirit of the event has pretty much gone unchanged.

However, any party that's a century old will experience some evolution. The near yearly event has been heavily documented in the State Archives of Florida, and these vintage photos go back to the city's first Gasparilla celebration in 1904.

The ship, the pirates, the parade, the fleet, a lot of familiar things are here. In these photos, you'll spot Mayor Curtis Hixon giving the traditional key to the city to a pirate, floats from Publix and the Columbia Restaurant making an appearance in the late '60s, as well the real Colonel Sanders. You'll also spot the six minarets of the University of Tampa, the Lafayette Street Bridge, the Tampa Theatre, and the first Children's Parade in 1947.

Pretty much the only thing that has changed since a Tampa Tribune society editor decided to create a holiday similar to Mardi Gras, is the floats (well, and the blackface). As you can see, the first few parades involved mostly horse-drawn carriages and early automobiles. As Gasparilla progressed into the '20s the floats were drastically different, with floats for things like the Tampa marriage group, and the local jail– complete with gallows. In the '40s, many of the floats were notably pulled by military jeeps from MacDill Air Force Base.

And, even though Tampa's shoreline has drastically changed over the years, one thing has always remained the same: Tampa's love of saying "argh" just for the hell of it.

Photos via Florida Memory

| Photos by