"Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla" began as a celebration of the legend of the pirate Jose Gasparilla in Tampa in 1904. The parades and parties include a coronation of a "Gasparilla King and Queen" each year. They hold "court", everyone dresses up and has a good time.

The legend goes a little something like this. Jose Gaspar was a young officer in the Spanish Royal Navy. When it was defeated in 1783, Gaspar didn't like the prospects available to a low ranking officer on the losing side. He supposedly took over the Florida Banca by inciting mutiny among the sailors and headed to the west coast of Florida.

Thinking that "Gasparilla" sounded more exciting that "Gaspar", he changed his name and his new ship's name to "Gasparilla". In the legend, he settled near Charlotte Harbor and is credited with naming a few choice islands, like Sanibel and Captiva (both incredibly beautiful resort islands on the Gulf Coast). Sanibel was named after his second-in-command's girlfriend, Captiva was dubbed its name because that's where he kept his prisoners, his 'captives'. Of course, he named an island after himself, too, Gasparilla.

Or so the legend goes.

Gasparilla kept himself busy plundering ships of their booty and keeping any pretty ladies aboard as mistresses for his crewe or himself. Its rumored he captured a Spanish princess in 1801, but ended up beheading her because she spurned his affections (duh!).

He kept on pirating until December 21, 1821, when he was fooled into a fight with the USS Enterprise - who tricked him into thinking it was a merchant ship - and he was defeated, and took his own life. His crewe of 11 were tried and executed, except for one cabin boy who served a jail sentence and was released.

Or so the legend goes.

Much later, research was done by several people to validify the story of Jose Gaspar. The conclusive evidence suggests that the 'cabin boy', Juan Gomez, perpetuated the stories, ofen inserting himself into different roles, and embellished a few things.
Further research drudged up a diary of Gasparilla's, which had been taken by his second-in-command and left with the girlfriend, Sanibel. Inquiries into maps of the islands supposedly named by Gasparilla were dated before he got to the area, suggesting he did not name them.

Jose Gaspar may have never been at all, but his legend is a great story and has been instrumental in developing a multi-generational festival and a social group in Tampa.
In order to be an acting part of Ye Mystic Krew of Gasparilla, you have to be invited and accepted into the organization and be willing to party down in pirate gear every spring. It's not just a small group of people who participate though, the whole city comes out for parades and other festivities. The 'pirates' 'invade' Tampa Bay and come ashore throwing gold Gasparilla coins (not real) and bead necklaces at the parade goers. There is much music, dancing and beer drinking to be had by all (beer drinking by those over 21 only, thank you).

History of Gasparilla resource: "Gasparilla 1904 -1979" written by Nancy Turner, limited printings by the Cider Press, Inc.

In the early 19th century, Jose Gaspar is said to have raided Florida's west coast. 200-some years later, a crowd over 400,000 strong cheers on a replica pirate ship firing it's cannons as it "invades" Hillsborough Bay in Tampa. I found myself lost somewhere in that crowd, beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It felt right.

A few hours and many alcoholic beverages later, a pretty girl wearing blue dances awkwardly around me as I play yet another game of beer pong. She hasn't said a word, but she's feeling my energy and hops around me like an angry war vet. The next thing I can remember is being in what seemed to be the longest kiss of my life. The girl in blue is a sloppy drunk. Her tongue flails around in my mouth like a beheaded snake, twitching pointlessly. The back seat of my beater Maxima is covered in books and gym clothes and the millions of beads I so valiantly collected from the parade earlier. Chris is driving, I don't know where to, and whatever random bar skank he managed to pull is getting frisky in the passenger seat. The girl in blue pulls away from me and promptly removes her shirt. With a slight smile, she presses her index finger to her mouth and mouths "Shhhh!" I don't see why, Chris doesn't care and his girl is so plastered she can hardly stay awake. I pay no attention to either of them.

Missionary position in the back of a moving sedan is not an easy feat. It requires a lot of coordination and can get tiring very quickly. The beauty laid out in front of me seems to enjoy it. She bites my fingers and breathes heavily. I feel her cum drip down my thighs. Her chest and perfectly toned abs glisten with sweat in the passing light of incandescent street lights. I pray to the gods of luck and finish inside of her. She doesn't seem to notice or care. I give her slippery cunt a gentle pat and tell her to get dressed. She smiles girlishly, and closes her legs with her arms between them. Satisfied, she assumes a sleeping position and passes out. I follow suit.

I wake up in an empty parking lot. Chris and his drunken hook up have left. I look for my phone and find it hiding under an empty can of Zippo lighter fluid. The message reads, "Gaspar's Grotto, call me for directions". Chris was nice enough to send me a text before he unceremoniously left us lying half naked in the back of my car. My head is pounding, the alcohol is wearing off. Beside me, still curled up in fetal position, Ms. Blue Shirt sleeps. How do I not know her name? What the hell am I doing?

The familiar feeling of mental distress takes over. Unemotional sex does this to me. I need a cigarette. I throw my jeans on and start to get out. The cool breeze that enters the car when I open the door wakes my belle. She rubs her eyes and blindly searches for her clothes with one hand. I toss her her thong and turquoise shirt. Her jeans are below her. I step outside and spark a stogie. A few minutes later she stumbles out of the car behind me. She's wearing my shirt and no pants. How did she manage to do that? She sits down on the trunk and motions for a cigarette. I give her one and spark it for her. She runs her hands through her dark brown hair and lays down, her back against my car's rear window. I take her in.

"This may not be the right time to ask this, but what is your name?"
She laughs. I try to laugh along with her.
"Melissa." She extends a hand and I shake it.

A comfortable silence is occasionally disturbed by the thumping bass coming from a club down the street. The sky is clear. I lean against the car and see no reason to move.
"You took something didn't you?" She says nothing, that stupid smile lingering on her face far longer than it should. Her eyes are closed and her hair flies around with the wind as if it has a mind of it's own.

"I'm trying to understand...why'd you even come out here tonight? What's the appeal of this place?" I try not to sound like an asshole. It's hard.
"Well...why did you come here? Your the one that drove 4 hours...I live around here." She doesn't even open her eyes.
"I'm trying to figure that out myself. Lack of a better idea I guess." She opens her eyes and turns to look at me.
"Please. You came out here to get laid. Now that you've gotten laid it doesn't seem important to you anymore. Don't worry, I'm in the same boat as you." I'm amazed. Such brutal honesty. My silence relays my respect for her better than any words ever could. The finality of it all sets in.

I climb on the trunk and kiss her. She doesn't open her eyes, but her arms wrap themselves around my neck.
"Let's go in," she says.
"Fuck that."

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