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Bellydancers & Backlava: Surrender Your Beads!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.


Last weekend, I took a trip down south to my hometown, the land of the Buccaneers and the Rays – Tampa.

Every year, during the last weekend in January, Tampa Bay fills with pirate ships, college students, and copious amounts of rum. Along the parade route from Ashley Drive to Bayshore Blvd., the atmosphere is full of all types of people, from children to seniors who have been engaging in the tradition for years. 

I pull out the pirate hat that sits in the back of my closet and prepare for what I consider my favorite holiday, Gasparilla, but even so this year was one for the books. Here’s a timeline of my experience:

12 p.m.
I slipped on my pirate boots and my anchor necklace, embracing the culture of the troublemaking swashbucklers. If you don’t dress up, the Gasparilla parade is only half the fun.

12:30 p.m. 
I like my men like I like my pirates. I tried to convince my boyfriend to wear eyeliner like Jack Sparrow. He wouldn’t, but he did agree to put on a red bandana.

1 p.m.
We met our mates who were more interested in the drunken aspect of the day.

2 p.m. 
The rum was gone…

3 p.m. 
We arrived to the parade route near the end of the parade. Gangs of scalawags roamed the premises in search of beer and beads.

5 p.m. 
My boyfriend scrounged around getting me as many beads as he could pillage. Apparently, if you’re asking for beads for your girlfriend, Jack Sparrow impersonators are very generous.

6 p.m.
As the parade came to an end and the police proceeded to clear the parade route, we entered a restaurant called “Top,” but it was more like walking into a duplication of the Black Pearl. Drunken men with eyeliner crowded the bar and women crowded around trying to get them to surrender their booty (Gasparilla beads).

Cara oversees Her Campus Media's community department and serves as strategic lead for the expansion, development and management of all HCM communities, including the Her Campus Chapter Network, InfluenceHer Collective, College Fashionista, Spoon University, Campus Trendsetters, alumni and high school. She works closely with company leadership to develop new community-related sales offerings and the Integrated Marketing team to support all community-focused client marketing programs from end to end. Cara has experience working with high-profile talent, such as Jessica Alba, Andrew Yang, Amber Tamblyn, Aja Naomi King, Troian Bellisario, Jessica Marie Garcia, Nico Tortorella, Nastia Liukin, Rebecca Minkoff, Cecile Richards and Samantha Power, as well as brands like Coca-Cola, L'Oréal Paris, The New York Times, HBO, Uber, H&M and more. Having been a part of the HC family since 2011, Cara served as Campus Correspondent of the HC chapter at the University of Florida where she studied journalism, women’s studies and leadership. A New Yorker turned Floridian, Cara has a Friends quote for any situation. You can usually find her with her friends and family at the beach, a concert or live sports event or binge-watching Grey's Anatomy or Sons of Anarchy. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thecararose.