YMKG Children's Gasparilla Parade

Your Guide to Children’s Gasparilla 2024: What You Need to Know Before You Go

The 77th Annual Children’s Gasparilla returns Saturday, January 20, along Tampa’s beautiful Bayshore Blvd. This beloved event has grown into one of the largest children’s events in the country and it’s a MUST experience with the kids at least once.

In addition to the actual parade, which features dozens of floats rolling down Bayshore Boulevard throwing beads, there’s a Bicycle Rodeo, a Preschooler’s Stroll, an “Air Invasion” and SOCOM jump, and to cap it all off, a magnificent Piratechnic fireworks display over the bay.


But first–don’t leave home without a few necessary items:

  • It’s going to be COLD, so dress the part and bring blankets for the kids to bundle up in.
  • Look the part! Just because you’re not IN the parade doesn’t mean you can’t have fun sporting swashbuckling gear! Festive shirts, pirate costumes, hats, and accessories are encouraged! We’re sharing our favorite places to shop for Gasparilla gear here.
  • Wheels – like a strollers and wagons. You’ll be doing a lot of walking to and from your perfect parade-viewing spot. And who wants to carry kids around all day??
  • We also highly recommend bringing plenty of water to stay hydrated, kid snacks, and lots and LOTS of hand wipes.
  • Keep in mind, there are only portable potties along the route if nature calls, so wipes and hand sanitizers are an absolute must. One reader recommended bringing a roll of toilet paper which is actually a genius idea. There are baby changing areas and nursing tents along the route too.
  • Have your child bring a backpack they can wear to carry their water and snacks…and of course, all of the beads they’ll collect! If it’s something they can wear, they are more likely to carry it rather than a bucket or bag.
  • If rain is in the forecast, bring ponchos or umbrellas. A poncho also doubles as a good barrier between the wet ground and your blanket if you decide to sit along the grassy areas. Keep the booty dry!
  • Cash for parking, snacks from vendors and swag.
  • Patience. Enjoy the moment and have FUN!

Let’s start with the important details…like where to park for the Children’s Gasparilla!

Learn more about ADA parking and viewing here.

You have plenty of parking options for the Children’s Gasparilla including in downtown and parking closer to the route with private property owners.

Keep in mind, street parking close to the route will be hard to find and there will be a ton of traffic due to street closures. You might get lucky and snag a paid parking spot in a lot near the parade route, but if you’d rather not deal with it, plan to park in the Fort Brooke Garage (you can also park in the Whiting Street Garage if this one fills up) in Downtown Tampa. The city will be charging an event rate to park.

From there, walk to the Riverwalk and then over bridges to Bayshore and Platt Street, near the Publix where you can catch a ride on the FREE Trolley from 11:30 am-8:00 pm.

The city does a good job of directing you on where to go–they have several decades of doing this under their belts, so it’s pretty much down to a science now. The Trolley will get you closer to the parade route at Bay to Bay and Bayshore.

The Trolley will continuously loop during that timeframe between 10 am and 8 pm which is good news if you have to leave early or you’re running late.


Children’s Gasparilla Parade Route

The follows a shorter route along Bayshore Blvd than the parade during Gasparilla Pirate Fest. It steps off at Bayshore and Bay to Bay and ends around the area of Edison Ave.

Learn more about how to elevate your day with reserved seating during the parade. This is a great option if you are looking for a bit more space and a front row view! 

The Gasparilla Children’s Parade is alcohol-free. This is a family event–-save the libations for next weekend’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest on January 27, 2024!

Children's Gasparilla parade map


Full Schedule of Gasparilla Children’s Parade Events:

*Activities and vendors open at 12:00 p.m. along Bayshore between Bay to Bay and Edison.

  • Bicycle + Pedestrian Safety Rodeo – 12:00pm-2:00pm
    During this free event, participants will be fitted with a free, brand-new bicycle helmet to keep (while supplies last). They can then hop on one of the Rodeo’s bicycles and traverse through a mini traffic course that teaches bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Gasparilla Air Invasion – 12:00pm-4:00pm
    The Gasparilla Air Invasion is back with its largest airshow yet! Watch civilian aerobatic teams, vintage military aircraft and The Chuters Parachute Demonstration Team make their way through the sky. The show will begin at noon and run through the start of the parade at 4:00.
  • Gasparilla Preschoolers’ Stroll presented by Primrose Schools – 2:00pm-3:00pm
    Calling Tampa Bay’s youngest pirates! The Preschoolers’ Stroll allows children ages 5 and under to strut their stuff along Bayshore Boulevard in their specially decorated wagons, bicycles, and strollers while donning their best pirate attire. The Stroll begins at Howard Avenue and ends at Rome Avenue.
  • Children’s Gasparilla Parade – 4:00pm-6:15pm
    Brush up on your bead-catching skills! The Children’s Gasparilla Parade is widely considered the largest children’s event in the country. Beginning at Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevard, pirates, floats, marching bands, and more will march north, ending 1904at Edison Avenue. Be prepared for appearances by Tampa’s sports teams, mascots, favorite characters, and beads, beads, and more beads.
  • Gasparilla Nighttime Air Invasion – 6:15pm-7:00pm
    The airshow fun continues during twilight hours. The performances will take place at dusk and will include a precision parachute jump, from The Chuters Parachute Demonstration Team and Ghostwriter Airshows’ signature fireworks flight.
  • Piratechnic Finale – 7:00pm-7:30pm
    Pirate + pyrotechnics = Piratechnics! This firework finale recreates the imaginary battle between the pirates of YMKG and the City of Tampa that began in 1904. This bold, colorful finale sets the scene for the energetic Gasparilla Pirate Fest that will take place the following Saturday, January 27th.


Children’s Gasparilla Road and Event Site Safety Initiative 

There’s no better place to enjoy the outdoors in January than Tampa, but on event day, public safety is priority number one. That’s why they’re asking anyone considering visiting the parade by bicycle or scooter to put their safety and the safety of others first by following recommended guidelines.

  • Always wear a helmet while bicycling or scootering.
  • Be cautious when riding, and do not ride in large crowds.
  • Map your route to the parade, as many roads may be closed.
  • Most importantly, do not ride your bicycle, scooter or golf cart on Bayshore Blvd. on event day. Although roads are closed, Bayshore is a very active event production space, which should only be accessed by authorized vehicles. Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the City of Tampa, and local law enforcement ask riders to use alternate routes.

*While bikes will be permitted for the Bicycle Safety Rodeo, the use of bikes and scooters are discouraged for use on the actual parade route.

Our Favorite Things to do at the Children’s Gasparilla 2024:

We’ve been attending for close to a decade now and have plenty of experience with the day’s activities and we love that it’s so much MORE than a parade! So let’s dive in to some awesome things to do during the Ashely Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A:

children's gasparilla bicycle rodeo
Image Credit: Dave Pullis

Bicycle Safety Rodeo 

Ships are all very well, but sometimes, a pirate needs his or her wheels. Come check if your skills are up to par by participating in the popular Bicycle Rodeo on Bayshore Boulevard between Rome Avenue and Dakota Street from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.  

“The clinic is a basic skills course and general education of bike safety for kids ages 4-17,” explains Tampa Police Officer David DiMarco. “Our target audience is typically 6-14 years of age.”

Participants will be fitted for a free bicycle helmet while supplies last. Bikes are available for use at the Rodeo only, but you are welcome to bring your own bike too to give it a try.

Children's Gasparilla Preschooler's Stroll
Image Credit: Dave Pullis


Preschooler’s Stroll 

At the 2024 Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll presented by EventFest, another Tampa tradition that was started in 2005, kids 5 and under can strut their stuff down a half-mile parade route from Howard to Rome Avenues.

Any little ones who don’t yet have their land legs can parade in or on a decorated scooter, stroller, bicycle or tricycle. Grand-pirates and others can get the best view of the parade from the Howard Avenue bleachers.  

Pirates love mayhem, but they also follow strict rules of conduct. Here’s the preschool stroll manifesto: 

  • The stroll will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m. on January 20. Schedule naps accordingly. 
  • Pirate attire is mandatory. Think menacing but overlaid with a dash of adorable. 
  • Pirates must be accompanied by a landlubber/adult. Rules are rules, and those old seadogs have their uses, such as carrying snacks.  
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed. Don’t be the son of a biscuit eater who rolls up on an electric scooter and is turned away. 
  • No walkups on the day of will be allowed. The privateers over at the Eventfest office must receive your application by January 17, 2024 or you’ll have to drown your sorrows on the sidelines with a bunch of spectating scallywags.  

So, dust off those feathered hats. Polish those boot buckles. Put the final touches of frippery and feathers and beads on that wagon. Because when you roll down that road with the kind of swagger your parents can only dream of imitating, you’ll want to be seen on the sweetest ship on the sea. 

Children’s Gasparilla floats along Bayshore Blvd. Photo provided by EventFest.

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade

This is the main event, and each year, the crowds have only gotten bigger! So come early and find a good spot. The Children’s Gasparilla Parade will begin at 4:00 pm at Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevard, proceed north along Bayshore Boulevard and end at Edison Avenue.  

Related: Local Parents Share Pro Tips to Navigate Parade Day

Past parades have seen more than 125 participating groups roll past, with marching bands, dance units and numerous school, community and neighborhood organizations. The highlight, of course, are the krewes and their elaborate floats. This is where kids 6 and above can participate. 

Train your eyes on the skies for incredible shows put on by aerobatics flying vintage military planes AND the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Parachute Team as they perform a “Gasparilla Air Invasion,” landing on Bayshore Boulevard just before the start of the children’s parade.

They’ll perform again at night just before the day’s grand finale—the Gasparilla “Piratechnic” Extravaganza Fireworks show—which will be launched just off Bayshore Boulevard. The ideal spot to watch the fireworks from is near Show Center at Howard and Bayshore, as this is where you’ll best hear the music to which the fireworks are timed.  


*Cover photo by Event Fest.

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