Gasparilla returns on Jan. 29 after being canceled last year 


Eve Murdick

This is the first Gasparilla during the COVID pandemic. It is important to remember previous policies, new corona policies, and basic tips from the 2020 Gasparilla.

While Floridians prepare for floats, beads, and celebration, law enforcement and leaders prepare for a Gasparilla in the new normal in addition to previous enacted policies. 

“Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said preparations are being made to accommodate some 300,000 people. Noting that the pandemic may still pose risks for those venturing into crowds, Castor urged paradegoers to practice ‘personal responsibility.’ There is no mask mandate in effect,” Tampa Bay Times states. 

Police enforcement have also been enacting policies to promote proper behavior and safety during the parade, which they have been improvising over the last few years. Officer Paz, a Tampa Police Department member, spoke to Plant High Schoon seniors on blank to promote these policies.  

What is the Zero Tolerance Policy and why was It created? 

“The Zero Tolerance Policy was inspired because, before 2010, Gasparilla became like a big drunk fest; a lot of people down there were drinking alcohol, having disruptive behavior, trespassing, underage drinking—I mean you name it,” Officer Paz said. “We were getting complaints from residents and people going down to Gasparilla.” 

How are you enforcing this policy? 

“We set out on an adventure to change the culture of Gasparilla and to get people to come down and demonstrate responsible behavior rather disruptive, under the influence behavior. We didn’t want to all-of-a-sudden show up one day and go surprise, you can’t do this anymore. So, what we did was we went on this big campaign, called the Responsibility Matters campaign, where we went to all the high schools, colleges, MacDill Base, and other places. We also did public service announcements to get the message out. Now, we can see that the culture is changing because we got as much if not more enforcement efforts down there to keep everyone safe, and we now have way fewer arrests; back in 2020, we only had two arrests.” 

Do you have any further tips for Gasparilla participation? 

“The biggest tip is come down to Gasparilla because, especially if you’re graduating this year, you want to make sure you come down and enjoy this Tampa tradition. The biggest thing is also to be prepared when you come down: expect that the traffic is going to be a little slow. It’s like going to the beach and not expecting sand to get on you! Also, plan ahead: know when everything’s going to happen and what time the parade happens. If you to , it is going to have all that information on there. The more prepared you are, the more fun everything is.”