At the start of my “Gasparilla” adventure, I got up very early (around 5 AM) and drove out of the South Gate of MacDill AFB to a place called Ballast Point (approximately 3 miles from the base). I heard that the “authentic pirates” would be gathering there at the Ballast Point Yacht Club to get themselves prepared for battle. Not really sure if I was supposed to be able to get access into this location, so after I parked my truck and reached the entry point of the Yacht Club, I told security that I was there as a photographer to take photo shots of the Pirate gathering and preparation. It worked and they allowed me in!
What a great experience. To see and to witness the behind the scenes preparation of the pirates for battle.
What was very interesting is that I found out thru speaking with some of the pirates, that there’s an “official” Tampa Bay Pirates Association” that’s been around for 115 years. The association is limited to a maximum of 750 “authentic” pirates and it’s very difficult to become an official member. There’s actually a rigid application process to be considered for entry into this prestigious organization of Pirates. Some members, have been in this organization and have participated in the official Gasparilla Invasion event for well over 60 years! Many of the younger pirates have entered into this organization only as the older pirates have either passed away and or no longer wanted to be members. The fees for official membership are steep and there is a large waiting list to get into this coverted organization. There are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Pirates in the organization. So in many cases the current pirates have a long and proud heritage in this organization, as their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, etc; are or were previous members in this organization. So…as my title states many of these folks truly have pirate heritage in their blood!