By BIANCA LOPEZ
Pirates invaded, pedestrians pillaged, and, while the history of the parade may be mythical and your memories of the day may be hazy, the Gasparilla excitement is all too real.
Last weekend, students broke their typical hibernation patterns, with many waking up at the crack of dawn to get a jump start on the Gasparilla festivities. Co-eds, from UT and other colleges and universities, joined out-of-towners and seasoned veterans and gathered together in a drunken sea of beads and bodies.
“Gasparilla 2016 was my very first one,” said Ricardo Vega, a freshman international business and entrepreneurship major. “I actually enjoyed how people interacted with each other and how you experienced a community movement. You could sense the activeness, diversification and sociableness of the crowd throughout the day.”
The event this past Saturday opened the city up to more than 300,000 partiers, many of whom were bandana-clad and all of whom were dressed in varying degrees of pirate-wear. Among those dressed like pirates, some religious groups also walked along Bayshore to spread their messages before the parade.
Despite the crowds and notorious reputation, arrest numbers at the event were fairly low over the course of the day. The Tampa Police Department reported only two felony arrests and 23 misdemeanor busts, and only one citation for an open container, according to ABC. These numbers are comparable to last year’s arrest reports that cited 24 total arrests and 5 open container citations, as reported by The City of Tampa’s website.
“It was a weekend of debauchery,” said Creed Smith, a junior film major. “It’s not surprising that there were few arrests. What can police really do at that point?”
Three of the misdemeanors were for adult underaged drinking, four for possession of marijuana, and three for disorderly conduct.
One of the crazier charges was attributed to 20-year-old Jacob McKenna who was arrested for striking a police horse. The chocolate brown thoroughbred named Chad has been with the force for more than a decade. Chad is fine, but he still has a long face. When asked if he’d like to press charges, the victim responded, “Neigh.”
“That’s animal abuse,” said Alicia Donovan, a freshman marine biology major. “I don’t care if you’re drunk, don’t hurt animals.”
Attendees of the Gasparilla parade are surprised by the low numbers given the overall atmosphere of the event.
“I saw people sleeping in the grass in the middle of the parade,” Donovan said. “People were throwing up into Bayshore.”
All in all, no one died. #goals.