Just like in high school, everyone ends up being known for something. We thought it would be fun to give you guys some deeper insight. This way you get a better understanding to the most "known" krewes. Keep in mind there are over 60 different krewes that participate in the Gasparilla Day parade but not all have the clout of the following. So without further ado (in no particular order) here our the top 6 Gasparilla Krewes.......
1. The O. G. Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla
Lets not fool ourselves, or even forget for one second why Gasparilla even exists. These guys were THE first Krewe and basically run everything. To ensure you don't get it confused, these are the only pirates that matter, so being dressed as Captain Morgan or Johnny Depp actually comes off looking foolish, rather than a sign of admiration. Their costume consists of colorful shirts, large pirate pants and their infamous vests. Traditionally, the vest displays a large patch on the back and way back when, this was only way we could identify our pirate fathers and husbands. Let me tell you, you think you know your man until he's standing with 600 other guys in full face makeup including battle scars and bullet wounds. YMKG gets to walk the entire parade route and go wherever they want, it's their parade. Other krewes must stay with their respective floats during the day parade. If you are still confused, just look for the letters YMKG. YMKG is a legacy that has been passed down from father to son for generations.
2. Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago
Think the God Father meets Don Quixote
Sant Yago's focus is persevering and enhancing Tampa's Latin heritage and culture. With that being said, these are probably the only guys in tights that you DONT want to mess with. Their hearts are as big as their beads.... the large New Orleans style beads these guys don during the parades. They have a long legacy through their membership and most all are related. Their costumes resemble that of Royalty from Spain, including tights. They are responsible for the Tampa Illuminated Knight Parade, this parade is awesome because you get wear glow in the dark or light up items with your costume.
3. Rough Riders
Think Super Troopers meets Teddy Roosevelt
Rough Riders are modeled to be Roosevelt's Voluntary Calvary. Most members are current or former service men, be that reserve, cop, FBI, you name it. Not all, but most. So these guys are actually great to have around when things get crazy and you need backup. They also sponsor the Tampa St. Patrick's Day parade down in Ybor and do a killer job. Their most known float is a giant train. One of their biggest fundraisers is the Teddy Bear drive, this is actually so popular that almost all of Tampa is involved in it. Whether it's marching into battle or you're just in the mood for some target practice, these are the guys for you.
4. Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune
Think The Little Mermaid meets Master & Commander
They started with a group of sea men over in St. Petersburg, modeled after the New Orleans Krewe of Neptune. They are always more comfortable when near water and will typically have their parties near such. Their costumes reflect the 1800's British Navy uniform. Two cool things to note are their court (legacy women/queens) have really cool uniform/costumes and at the front of their float sits King Neptune himself. You can't miss him, he's huge. They are a close knit group and you won't find too many of them far inland. If you enjoy boating, swimming, or are just a water baby, then they are for you.
5. Krewe of Queen Anne's Revenge
Think Sugar Cane meets Beyoncé
KQAR is another all female Krewe, started by 7 South Tampa business women in 2010. They represent the women that were captured by Edward Teach (Blackbeard), during his French Caribbean take over. They refer to themselves as "Annies", their motto is "Better than Rum & Gunpowder" and their mascot is the Fleur De Lis. These ladies don brightly colored jackets with their jeweled symbol on the back. They too have their own fundraisers and support local charities. They always go big and that holds true to their three floats. One is a sugar cane shack with large parrots, another a rock cave with cannons and the third is guarded by a larger than life gorilla. You can typically hear this Krewe coming, as they prefer dancing to walking, before you are blinded by their bright ensembles.
6. Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley
Think Medieval meets Pageantry
An all female Krewe, started in 1992, after the Irish pirate Grace O'Malley. They refer to themselves as "Ladies of Grace" and are currently the largest all female krewe. Their motto is "Fun, Friendship & Frivolity" (I'm not even going to pretend I know what that last word means) . Their costumes are 16th century formal wear and their mascot is the Seahorse. They have two floats, one resembles a castle and the other a pirate ship. They have copious amounts of member activities and committees for involvement all year round. They have a very elegant demeanor and seem to float more than walk the parade route. They are a seasoned bunch and do a ton of work within the Tampa Bay community.
Hopefully this public service announcement will help you identify some of these Krewes next Saturday.
*All photos were taken from Krewe's own social media sites.
C. & G.