INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – For years residents of Tampa Bay have watched pirates invade the port of Tampa and witnessed the mayor of the city surrender and hand the keys over to the marauders. Now they are about to invade Indian Rocks Beach.
In Tampa, the invasion is called Gasparilla. In IRB, it will be Party Pirates on the Rocks. The invasion is the idea of IRB resident Stacy Myers, who for years participated in Gasparilla and then realized it made more sense to do it closer to home.
“For the first few years we’d head over to Gasparilla across the Bay and put 16 pirates on our boat,” she said. “That took a lot of gas and money. Then one year we froze so bad. It was so cold so I said let’s try doing it here on the island. Others had mentioned that they would like to do it here as well.”
Three years ago, Myers and her friends then began a modest version of what they will be staging this year. They dressed up as pirates and had a party at Jimmy Iguana’s in the Holiday Inn. That was the extent of it. Myers said her friends came out and celebrated mostly because they couldn’t go across the bay.
“Small boats just couldn’t hold enough gas to go across the Bay and take part in the invasion and make it back here,” she said. “That’s why we started to have the party on the same Friday evening as the beginning of Gasparilla.”
Now, Myers and her friends up stepping it up a notch. The party at Jimmy Iguana’s will still be held on Friday, Jan. 26; then on Saturday, Jan. 27, the day of Tampa’s festival, IRB invasion begins in earnest, with the flotilla sailing down the Intracoastal Waterway to invade the city.
The IRB pirate invasion is expected to attract somewhere in excess of 200 people.
“We have up to 20 boats that will gather at the Belleair Causeway and we’ll head down the Intracoastal, through the narrows and to Caddy’s Pub in Indian Shores. We’ll all dock there and invade the place,” she said.
After that the “invaders” will make their way back north and tie-up at the IBB’s floating docks and from there will invade JD’s for an hour or so.
From there they head over to Crabby Bill’s for yet another party.
When asked if all these establishments know they are coming, Myers said without a doubt.
“They are excited and are looking forward to us coming,” she said.
Helping Myers organize the event is Dav, “Hippy” Laramee. He’s no stranger to organizing events and has been an executive member of the Homeowners Association for some time. He says this pirate invasion will be good for the city.
“I think it will be great for the community,” he said. “A lot of people don’t want to make the long trip to Tampa so they will be able to join in and do it on a smaller scale here locally.”
Laramee said the event will be a lot of fun and will help support local businesses.
“They are all happy to see us,” he said.
As for the “pirates,” Laramee said anyone can participate.
“I will have 28 people on my boat and a lot of them are from out of state,” he said. “They are people who know about Gasparilla and think it is a great thing. Everybody can enjoy the festivities.”
He said people can enjoy it even if they don’t dress up as pirates.
“We do have some pretty shifty pirates and some not so much,” he said. “Everyone is welcome whether in costume or not. People who don’t have boats can hitch a ride. It is a way to celebrate our community without going to Tampa.”
Laramee said the city of IRB is cooperating with the event as well.
“They are letting anyone who wishes to leave their boat docked overnight at the floating docks which they normally are not permitted to do,” he said.
Myers said while much of the event is patterned after Gasparilla there are differences.
“We’re not looking to form a crewe or anything like that,” she said. “There are no fees; it is just a fun community party.”
Laramee had another word about the event and Gasparilla.
“We’re not trying to outdo Gasparilla; that will never happen,” he said.
Anyone interested in joining in can get information on the group’s Facebook page “Party Pirates on the Rocks.”