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Wristbands to separate real, fake Gasparilla pirates

Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 06:08 PM

Gasparilla pirates typically have eye patches, bad teeth, bandanas and beads.

This year they'll wear something new: wristbands.

To differentiate themselves from the hordes along Bayshore Boulevard, all participants in the next Gasparilla parade will be required to wear yellow wristbands provided by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

The wristbands will help parade leaders and law enforcement officials recognize those who belong in the parade's staging area, said Don Barnes, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's executive director.

The Jan. 26 parade is expected to draws hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Thousands of people participate in each Gasparilla.

Because wristbands weren't used in prior Gasparillas, this is no way to know how many parade-goers dressed in costumes and walked along the parade route even though they didn't belong, Barnes said.

"In the staging area, the krewes and the drivers are supposed to be the only ones in that area," Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis wrote in an email to The Tampa Tribune. "They are moving floats and getting in place for the parade, and we and the krewes didn't want people walking around in that area."

Wristbands will identify those who don't belong, Davis said.

"There haven't been any incidents in previous parades, but the wristbands were put in place to better identify who should be in the staging area and who shouldn't," she wrote.

Each wristband will be numbered – making it simple for parade organizers to track down which organization provided each wristband to each person.

Adding wristband requirements for Gasparilla just made sense, Barnes said.

"We're always looking to make things a little bit better," he said.

jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691

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