Gasparilla Parade 2012: Veterans have parade tips for newbies

5:59 PM, Jan 27, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - At the Bead Barn in Tampa, last minute shoppers are getting ready for the big day.

"You collect pins from the other pirates and put them on your hat; so I need a hat," says Fawn Meehan, who will participate in the parade with the Peg Leg Pirates.

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 Gasparilla Parade 2011

Even though the Gasparilla celebration is more than 100 years old, it's still brand new to some folks like Sherri Hatfield who recently moved to Tampa. Sherri says she's heard all about it. "That it's really crowded, lots of people and just total craziness," she says while picking out beads.

So 10 News asked some Gasparilla veterans to help out the first-timers. Their first big tip - get there early.

"Oh yeah, you definitely have to be there early. It fills up really fast," says UT student Mark Miller.

So just "how" do you get there? "If you get a taxi you can get dropped off real close to the route," advises Mark Rogers of Brandon.

The "drop-off" is also a favorite. "That's what we do," says 9-time parade goer Christi Barli. "We just get a ride early, get dropped off. That way no one has to worry about driving afterwards or getting out of there."

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If you do drive yourself, wear comfortable shoes, because you'll be doing "a lot of walking and be prepared to see a lot of crazy things and interesting people," adds Rogers.

During the parade it's all about the beads so you, "gotta grab, gotta holler," says Kareem McGill.

Here are some "no's" for parade goers: no glass, no large coolers. You will want to bring plenty of cash though, because all the vendors along the route deal only in cash and you'll want to avoid ATM fees.

When you're picking your spot, you don't want to be right next to them, but it's convenient if you're near some of the portable restrooms.

So there are a few tips and here's just one more from McGill, "Be safe and have a lot of fun!"

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