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South Tampa News

Former Tampa mayors share tales of Gasparilla

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM
UT CAMPUS -

Former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman only went to lunch with the Krewe of Gasparilla pirates once. Meanwhile fellow one time mayor Pam Iorio was always happy to give the city to the scallywags.

Former mayor Dick Greco liked the economic impact and attention the parade received as well as the anonymity of being hid behind layers of makeup.

The three former elected officials shared stores and traded barbs in a presentation, Gasparilla: Tall Tales & Scandalous Stories, while keeping an audience of 200 laughing.

At the Jan. 12 event, Freedman said she was "dragged" from her office by Boyd Wynne and other krewe members to surrender the city – and have lunch at the Tampa Yacht Club, where she was the only female in the room.

Some comments made among the krewe members not only resulted in a rowdy lunch, they resulted in Freedman hiding under the table.

"And I never went to lunch with them again," she said.

Iorio said after she became mayor, she learned more about, "the city finances and the infrastructure, and I was OK about giving the city away. Trouble was: They always gave it back."

Greco said he saw the Gasparilla krewe and other groups get more involved in the community, "and do great things today like visit hospitals."

However, the fun was "getting dressed so you could go up and do and say whatever you want. And nobody recognizes you."

Iorio quipped back: "From what you were doing, I knew it was you."

She also kidded Al Austin, a Republican leader who brought the Republican National Convention to Tampa who was sitting in the front row.

"Al Austin did so much dressing up as a pirate of that I thought he was Democrat," she said.

This year's parade will be Saturday and feature 60 krewes with almost 9,100 participants.

The Henry Plant Museum is on the campus of the University of Tampa with the exhibit Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition, on display through Feb. 17. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10, with seniors starting at age 65 and students admitted for $ 7; children ages 4 to 12 are $5; and 3 and younger are free. For information, call (813) 258-7302.

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