Steve Brooks talks about the history of Gasparilla and tips to stay safe.

Good afternoon, Steve Brooks here with Friday’s Inside Look by Brooks. Welcome everybody. So I’m running a little late today, I’m now at the end of my second week of having the flu. I’m eating a cough drop so excuse me, but I can’t shake this cough, it’s just hangs on and on and on. So man I hope you guys out there do not get what I had and still have because it lingers and lingers. So today I wanted to talk about Gasparilla, some of us in the law firm are going to the big Gasparilla extravaganza tomorrow and I wanted to kind of give some background to Gasparilla, what it’s all about. It’s really interesting, the whole Gasparilla extravaganza started way back in the early 1900s, 1904, and it revolves around this mythical Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar, who supposedly operated in Florida in the 18th and 19th century in Southwest Florida and there’s a shipwreck supposedly somewhere off of Florida, and, but if you look in the history books- the Spanish history books and the Florida history books there’s no record of Jose Gaspar. So even though people like to spout this mythical history, there really is no history. But it is a myth, and it has turned into be a very fun time. So, a few fun facts: the ship, there is a pirate ship that sails into the bay at 11:30 on Saturday and it basically invades the city and ultimately the pirates will meet with the mayor of the city and he’ll turn over the key to the city. But the pirate ship, I’m sure many of you have seen it, is 165 feet long, and it’s usually accompanied by hundreds and hundreds of boats. So, and then after the invasion, beginning at two there’s a parade from bay to bay to Ashley Drive. And get this: 300,000 people will attend the parade, it’s the third largest parade in the United States. That’s a big parade. So we have hundreds of boats on the bay, and we have hundreds of thousands of people on land. So with this many people and this much celebration going on, it’s a right time for accidents. So the people on the boats, I heard yesterday that there’s a new app that allows for boaters to actually go on the app and hire a captain to be on the boat for the full day and they’ll charge you $50 an hour, and his sole job is to make sure your boat and all the occupants are safe. And he won’t be drinking obviously. So if you and your crew and your boat are going to be out there and you think that there’s going to be a lot of alcohol involved, please consider either getting a captain for hire or a designated boat driver that won’t be drinking. Make sure you have all the boat cushions on board, flares, also even, it’s going to be a warmer day tomorrow thank goodness, I’m kind of tired of this cold weather. So make sure you have plenty of water, stay hydrated. For the people on land, on the parade route, you know when you get 300,000 people together, sometimes cell phones don’t work. The networks get overloaded and so you may want to, if you’re with a group, have a designated place to meet if you get separated. And again, make sure you stay hydrated because tomorrow is going to be a little warmer. So a little bit more about the parade itself- how many crews are in the parade? There’s 60 crews. And you ask, what’s a crew? Well crews actually are a term of art that started with the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. But it’s essentially an organization that gets together and is represented in the parade, but it’s not just about the parade. It’s a yearlong, for many of these crews, they’re very involved in charitable causes, community causes. They meet regularly sometimes once a month, you know all year long. They have dances, they have fundraising efforts. So it’s a huge community endeavor, and there’s 60 crews and each crew has their different constitution. Some are all female, some are all male, some are co-ed, some are very focused on charitable causes, some are more focused on just fun. So everybody can get involved with a crew. Some of the crews are by invitation only. But they all have a good time and it’s an incredible parade if you’ve never been. Gasparilla is much more than just the pirate invasion and the parade. Those are what I think we all commonly know Gasparilla for. But Gasparilla is a season, it’s literally about a three month season and some of the other Gasparilla events are, there’s a children’s Gasparilla parade, and then in February there’s a, actually a Santiago night parade in Ybor city which is a more adult-themed parade. There’s a Gasparilla distance classic run in late February and then in March there’s the Gasparilla music festival and a Gasparilla festival of the arts also in March. And then a Gasparilla international film festival in late March. So beginning in January through March, there’s multiple Gasparilla events and then all year leading up to this season, all these crews are meeting to prepare themselves for the season. And then in addition to the crews, the race organizers, and all the police agencies are very coordinated in the efforts to monitor the parade and the invasion and all of these events. So all of the government agencies and the Tampa police department and Tampa sheriff’s department are to be complimented for the way they work together with the parade organizers and make it a safe event. Speaking of safety, the parade is really all about kids, it’s a lot of fun to catch beads, and enjoy yourself but just remember kids first. Let the kids be the winners in this event. So drink plenty of water, have a designated place to meet if you get disconnected from your group, and remember kids win. I know we have a few people going to Gasparilla tomorrow and they are going to a private house on Bayshore, they have parking tickets. Parking is you know some ways away from the actual parade route. So get there early, enjoy your day, don’t let the fun of the day overcome, you know, and make it a bad day.I mean, be wise in your decisions and I hope you guys have a great time. I’m not going to be there, I’m going to be recovering from my second week of having the flu. But I just wanted to kind of go over a little bit about the fun facts of the Gasparilla event and that’s pretty much all I have today. Do we have any comments or questions? Okay so thank you so much, I hope you guys have a great weekend, if you’re going to Gasparilla have a fantastic time, and then we’ll look forward to seeing you next Friday at three o’clock for another edition of Inside Look by Brooks. Thank you, bye bye.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.