What came in as a Lion, leaves like a Lamb..The Tampa Gasparilla Celebration, which started January 22nd and ended this past weekend.
It all started with one of the largest fireworks displays in the country(Gasparilla Battle of the Pirates), 2 large parades and street festivals(Gasparilla Invasion and Pirate Fest, Krewe of St. 'Yago Knight Parade), the send-off of the Pirates back to Sea(Gasparilla March Triumphant), a Nationally recognized Marathon weekend(Gasparilla Distance Classic), the Gasparilla International Film Festival, and finally the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts wrapped things up this weekend.
Friday I had some friends in town from NYC, and did a BBQ with them at their Mom's place in Hyde Park. She lives in one of the oldest bungalow style homes just behind Hyde Park Village. This is a beautiful area of older historic homes, large oak tree lined streets, a great sense of Tampa History and Community.
Saturday we all went to the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in downtown Tampa. This year they had over 300 artists lined up all over the downtown streets, with two areas of live music, alot of entertainment and some very creative artists. It was interesting to notice that the crowds were quite a bit different then the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Parade last month..same people, except today we were all a little more cultured and civilized and not wearing beads. These types of festivals really bring out the community, and its a great opportunity to run into those that make the city what it is, like the Mayor Pam Iorio, City Council members, even my Neighborhood Association president. With the perfect weather, it made for a great day in downtown. One of my favorite artists was a photographer Steve S Gregory, his creativity was overwhelming.
Afterwards we all went over to the Gasparilla Film Festival taking place at Channelside downtown. It was in its 4th day, there were over 80 films in this years Festival, we decided to par-take in the new Richard Gere/Claire Danes thriller, The Flock. One thing that is great about attending Film Festivals, is you are typically the first people to view the Film, as was the case for "The Flock", the Executive Director and Producer(who happens to have part of their Studios in Largo) were on hand to take questions after the viewing. They advised us that the final editing occurred the day before, and they flew directly to Tampa with the final cut this morning, and we were the first to view. It goes to the distributor today to be released sometime this summer. By the way, and AMAZING thriller!! It interesting to learn how certain scenes were filmed, why and how they chose the actors, etc., and these are things you can only get to know by attending a Film Festival. There was a 14 minute preview prior to the move called "The Strip Club King", which is a documentary film on the life of Joe Redner, and VERY famous Tampa resident, who was also in the audience. That film is to be released nationally sometime in May.
Since we had a few hours to kill, we decided to have some great NY Style pizza at NYPD Pizza in Channelside. A Large Greek Salad, with Feta Cheese in the very tangy and tasty greek dressing, and lots of Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese on Crisp Greens with all the veges you would find on a Greek Salad. The 18" Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza was just like NY. Crispy but not too much so you can fold the slice as you eat it, and plenty of toppings and cheese. The Sauce was garlicky with a rich tomato flavor, and not sweet, which is perfect.
Saturday late night after the Festival, I was picked up and whisked away to Ybor City..Lounge 7/14, The Forge, Streetcar Charlies and then GBar provided a very surprisingly fun night out, the places were not overly crowded, and were very entertaining to say the least.
Sunday was a very relaxing day doing some biking at Fort DeSoto Park, and relaxing on the beach. There were quite a few people at the park today, but it is so big and spreadout, we still felt like we had the whole beach and park to ourselves.
Afterwards I met up with some friends and relaxed as the sun went down on their dock overlooking the water and Mangroves of Tampa Bay, as the boaters were coming in from a beautiful day on the water.