All-Women Krewe Takes Over Tampa's Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates

A women-led krewe plots a mutiny against Tampa this month.

WORDS Susan B. Barnes
January 2020
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Illustration by Nien-Ken Alec Lu

Most townspeople dread a pirate invasion, but for the past 105 years Tampanians have welcomed the skull-and-crossbones types for the annual Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates (Jan. 25). Of the 60 krewes commandeering Bayshore Boulevard this month, the Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O’Malley is perhaps the most interesting.

Inspired by the real-life 16th-century Irish pirate Grace O’Malley, Tampa’s over-300-strong all-women pirate krewe is believed to be the first of its kind, challenging the male-dominated storybook archetypes of Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook and Blackbeard. “It’s so much fun,” says member Lady of Grace Anne Bartlett. “It’s the closest to being a rock star you’ll ever be.”

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