Surviving Gasparilla

Over 200,000 people will flock to Tampa on Saturday to take part in the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Pirates, alcohol and great music make the event a must-see for people across the country, but it’s important to maintain a shred of common sense to avoid making choices you’ll later regret.

Every year flyers are passed out at Bulls Market detailing the many rules and regulations concerning the event so college students have a safe and legal experience. While most rules, like those prohibiting firearms and large coolers, are entirely reasonable, there are a few that often catch first-time attendees off guard.

Why, for example, does public urination need to be explicitly stated as prohibited on flyers? Well, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “public urination, vomiting, fights, sexual activity and passed-out teenagers” are a norm for the yearly event.

That’s right. Every year, someone finds himself so intoxicated he literally cannot wait in line for a bathroom. While a large portion of attendees are adults, there are still many children enjoying the festivities. Try not to scar them for life.

A children’s parade is offered the week before, reducing the number of kids lining the street Saturday morning. But that does not offer adults a free pass to act without thinking.

Only you know your limits. If you frequently find yourself stripping after one cocktail or picking a fight with someone twice your size after a few Bud Lights, perhaps consider staying sober. It’s better to be the designated driver to your extremely annoying drunken friends than to have to call your mom the next morning from an overcrowded jail cell.

The Tampa Police Department (TPD) has expressed they will be heavily enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy on underage drinking and will be making as many arrests as needed to keep the public safe.

Sneaking in a keg may seam like a brilliant idea. But know that if you’re caught — and let’s face it, with the entire TPD on patrol as planned, you will be — you’ll spend the night sharing a cell with a strange guy smelling of vomit and wearing an eye patch.

Gasparilla is one of the best events in Tampa, and anyone who has a chance should go. Collect some tacky beads, laugh at the bizarre pirate costumes and listen to some fantastic music. But recognize this is a public event, and thus requires a small dose of common sense to get through unscathed.

The community comes together and supports local businesses and charities by purchasing alcohol and food at the event. So by all means, don’t hold back on paying for that burger and beer. But when the buildings begin to swim before your eyes, you should probably swap that beer for some water.

The crowds are intense, so designate a meeting spot at the end of the night so you don’t find yourself climbing a streetlight screaming for Hannah, who actually, gave up looking for you an hour ago and called an Uber to go home.

Don’t be the guy who has pictures posted all over social media of him passed out in a gutter. Wear your pirate bandana and attempt some self-control. Gasparilla is the most fun when you are a responsible pirate.