Gasparilla 2015


It is Gasparilla time again!  For those of you who do not know the legend, here it is:

Jose Gaspar, the person

Jose Gaspar was born in Spain in the year 1756.  He was supposedly a courtier in the Spanish court for King Charles III.  Having been falsely accused of attempting to steal the crown jewels, he fled in his boat and vowed vengeance on all of Spain!  To do this, he sailed up and down the west coast of Florida and attacked any Spanish ship he came across.  He amassed a great deal of loot and hid it on Gasparilla Island, near Port Charlotte.

Whenever he captured a vessel, the males on board would either be put to death, or pressed into service under his rule.  The females, however, would be taken captive and secured on Captiva Island until their ransom was paid.

As all good pirates are want to do, he wanted one last glorious battle and spied a British trader and attacked.  It was, however, an American pirate hunter in disguise, the USS Enterprise, and his ship was blasted with canon balls.  Rather than be taken hostage, he tied the anchor around his waist, and jumped overboard.

Jose Gaspar, the boat

The current Gasparilla festivities in Tampa, originate from a guy by the name of John Gomez, who died in int very early 20th century in SW florida.  He claims to have been a pirate under Jose Gasparilla.  He wrote his story as entertainment for the hotel guests at Boca Grande, a community on Gasparilla Island.  In 1904, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in Tampa was formed.  They donned pirate costumes and rode around Tampa on horseback.  People loved this so much that the next year they decided to to have a parade and included all of the cars that were in Tampa at that time, 60.  From these humble beginnings, the celebration has gown into a 20 million dollar infusion of cash into Tampa’s economy and an estimated 400,000 people attending the parade.  At the very beginning of the season, the pirates attempt to get the Key to the city from the Mayor, who refuses.  This angers the pirates and they vow to come in force and take it.  On the big day, the sail into Tampa Bay on the Jose Gaspar, and head towards the city.  The locals, determined to protect their city, head out, en masse, via boat to turn the pirates away.  Instead, they all, to a man, join up with the pirates and become an escort for the Jose Gaspar, and bring it to port.   The Pirates then take the Mayor captive, do a little brunch, then head down to Ballast Point, and start a parade up Bayshore towards downtown.

The Gasparilla Season starts with the Children’s Parade, followed by the main parade the next weekend.  The Children’s parade is supposed to be an answer for all of the fretting parents who don’t want their innocent ones to witnessGasparilla.Tampa_-300x196 the debauchery of the main parade.  However, every year someone brings their little tykes to the main parade and complain how the event should be more family friendly.  It is, they were just a week late.

The next item in the season is the Sant’Yago Illuminated Knight parade which winds through Ybor.  This is my personal favorite!  The floats are very close, and the building prevent a build up of more that 4-5 people deep along the route.   It is also only about 2 hours long, not 5.AR-140129643

The love of my life, running and waving in the 5K

Gasparilla is very unique to Tampa and is cause for celebrating for a couple of months after the high holidays of November and December have come and gone.  There are several events other than the parades:  Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Gasparilla Music Festival, and the Gasparilla Distance Classic, a two day running event with a 5k, 8K, 10K, 15K,


and half marathon. For some reason, I did not take a lot of pictures this year, but below are some things that I made to eat, as well as some really good cupcakes that a friend of ours, Angel, made for the Children’s Parade firework watching party hosted by Scott.

Southern Living Homage
Southern Living Homage
Mac in a bundt
Mac and cheese in a bundt

Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce

Bring meat to a Super Bowl party and everyone will love you for it.  Bring good pulled pork and you won’t have to worry about brining leftovers home because it will gone before the 3rd quarter!  This dish served as a nice break from all the chips, dip, bad interceptions, turnovers and snack foods.

Side note:  I love this recipe because it allowed me time to recover from a party I attended the previous day while the meat cooked in the crock pot.

I wish I have a good picture for this recipe but it was blurry and not good enough to include!

This is a modified version of a recipe by Better Homes and Garden.



  • 2 1/2-3 lbs pork sirloin roast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • tablespoon cooking oil
  • medium onions, cut in thin wedges
  • cup root beer (DO NOT USE DIET)
  • tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 large cloves)


  • cups root beer (four 12-ounce bottles or cans)
  • 2  (12oz) bottled chili sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
  • 8 -10 hamburger buns, split (toasted, if desired)
  1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3-1/2- to 5-quart crockery cooker.  Sprinkle meat with the salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes. In a large skillet sear meat to a nice brown on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Transfer meat to cooker. Add onions, the 1 cup root beer, and garlic.IMG_6061_2
  2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.  Most modern slow-cookers run hotter and will actually take only 6-7 hours on low.
  3. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a large saucepan combine the 6 cups of root beer and the chili sauce and ground red pepper (if desired). Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 1hour or until mixture is reduced to 4 cups.
  4. Transfer roast to a cutting board or serving platter. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds.  Using a sieve, remove onions and garlic from cooking juices and discard.  Mix the juices and set aside 1/4 C of juice, discard the rest. Wipe the edges of the crockery.
  5. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds and place the meat back in the crockpot. Add 2 cups of root beer sauce and the 1/4 C of juice.  Mix the meat, juice and sauce with a pair of tongs, cover and leave the crockpot on warm or low to keep the meat hot.
  6. Place the left over 2 cups of sauce on a small bowl.  Serve pulled pork on the buns and drizzle with extra sauce if desired.Makes 8- 10 servings.


  • You can make half of the sauce recipe, mix it in with the meat, and omit the extra sauce altogether, but who doesn’t love extra sauce?
  • You can make the sauce quicker by dividing it in two and placing the sauce in two  12 inch skillets with decent sized walls.  If you do this, you can divide the time in half to 30 minutes).