Our website will be completely updated very soon to reflect all the fantastic accomplishments of the Inaugural Gasparilla Concours d'Elegance, and to announce the plans for the 2020 Gasparilla Concours d'Elegance. Same great location, same great atmosphere, keeping all the things you loved the most about it, and improving on those first year tweeks. We look forward to seeing you April 17-19, 2020.
info@GasparillaConcours.com (813) 714-1019
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved
Gasparilla Concours d'Elegance Inc. is a 501c3 Non-Profit Florida Corporation
Proud Sponsor of GCD
The organizers of this event receive NO COMPENSATION and are truly Volunteers! We are a 501c3 IRS recognized charitable organization.
The inaugural year's proceeds will be donated to Shriners Hospital for Children, Tampa.
We do it for the love of the community, great classic cars, and the charities we support !
The Gasparilla Concours d'Elegance
is an official club event of the
Hillsborough Region AACA
(Antique Automobile Club of America)
Old Wheel Restorations
formerly known as
Pistorius Collectible Autos
Sales & Restoration Services
The theme of Gasparilla was inspired by the local legend of José Gaspar, a Spanish naval officer who turned to piracy. Different legends say that he was either a nobleman and adviser to King Charles III of Spain who was exiled after a romantic scandal in the Spanish court or an ambitious young officer in the Spanish navy who was driven to mutiny by a tyrannically cruel captain. Whatever his reasons, the stories agree that Gaspar stole away in the late 1700s to the virtually uninhabited southwestern coast of Spanish Florida and established a secret base at Charlotte Harbor. Gaspar is said to have plundered many ships and taken many female hostages in almost four decades of roaming from Louisiana to the Spanish main aboard his stolen flagship, the Floridablanca. His exploits came to a sudden end in 1821 when, to avoid being captured by the schooner USS Enterprise, he wrapped himself in the ship's anchor chains and threw himself overboard while shouting ""Gasparilla dies by his own hand, not the enemy's!"
Despite this colorful history, there is no evidence that a pirate named Gaspar or Gasparilla ever operated off the Florida coast. Although the USS Enterprise was indeed attached to the pirate-hunting West Indies Squadron in 1821, the United States Navy has no record of any interaction with the mythical buccaneer or a person claiming to be member of his crew. In fact, researchers have found no contemporaneous records either in Spain or the United States that mention Gaspar's existence, and no physical evidence of his presence in Florida has ever been uncovered.
The first written account of José Gaspar was in a 1900 advertising brochure for the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad Company, a part of Henry B. Plant's railroad system that ran to Plant's Boca Grande Hotel in Charlotte Harbor. The brochure greatly embellished tall tales attributed to the late John Gomez, a well-known local fisherman and guide, to create the story of the pirate Gaspar, "The Last of the Buccaneers". It also mentioned that neither Gaspar nor his crew had ever retrieved his vast treasure cache, which was supposedly still hidden somewhere on Gasparilla Island, which was of course the location of the Boca Grande Hotel. Subsequent tales of the pirate Gaspar are based on that fanciful brochure, including several erroneous mentions in books about Florida history or real pirates.
The first Gasparilla parade was held in May 1904, after Tampa Tribune society editor Miss Louise Frances Dodge and Tampa's director of customs George Hardee combined the legend of the dashing pirate with elements of a New Orleans Mardi Gras / Carnivale festival to give Tampa's relatively sedate May Day celebration a new theme with local connections. The first "invasion" was via horseback, with the first sea-based invasion coming in 1911.
The Gasparilla parade was moved from May to February when it restarted following a lapse during World War I. This timing coincided with the Florida State Fair, which was then held at sprawling Plant Field near downtown Tampa. The events merged, and for decades, the parade route ended at the fair grounds, drawing many thousands of spectators to the combined festivities. Since the Florida State Fair moved to more spacious quarters east of Tampa in 1976, the parade route has varied slightly, but always includes a portion through downtown and a long stretch along Bayshore Boulevard.
Gasparilla was cancelled during World War II and resumed in 1946. With one exception in 1990, it has been held every year since.
For many decades, the Gasparilla parade was held on the second Monday of February. It was an official holiday in Tampa, with local schools and many businesses closed. In 1988, the main parade was moved to the first Saturday of February to allow more residents of other communities to take part in the festivities. Since 2005, the event has been held on the last Saturday of January.
The Legend of Gasparilla
The social season that revolves around the legend of Gasparilla, also known as Jose Gaspar, is celebrated by dozens of Gasparilla themed events. Many are charitable organizations, as is the Gasparilla Concours d'Elegance. We are happy to support the Gasparilla events that make Tampa such a philanthropic and special place to celebrate:
Besides the Gasparilla Children's Parade (first held in 1947), the Sant'Yago Knight Parade (first held in 1974), and the many galas and balls hosted by individual krewes, Tampa has long hosted a variety of other Gasparilla-related events from approximately January through March. One of the first was the Gasparilla Open, a PGA Tour stop which was sponsored by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla from 1932 to 1935. The 1935 edition had the largest prize purse on that year's PGA Tour ($4000), but with the deepening of the Great Depression, the tournament was discontinued thereafter. It returned in 1956 as the Gasparilla Invitational Tournament, an amateur competition which has been held annually ever since.
Other large-scale events held during the Gasparilla season include the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (established 1970), the Gasparilla Distance Classic (established 1978), the Gasparilla Film Festival (established 2006), and the Gasparilla Music Festival (established 2013). A changing lineup of smaller events held in Tampa during the first months of the year also use the Gasparilla name.
Many of the activities, organizations, events, and businesses that make use of the names "Gasparilla" or "Gaspar" are not affiliated with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla or the City of Tampa, as these names are not legally controlled by any organization.
The average crowd at the main parade is over 300,000 people, with over 1,000,000 attending at least one Gasparilla event. According to several studies, the Parade of Pirates has a local economic impact of over $22 million, and the combined events bring in over $40 million. Beginning in 2015, Visit Tampa Bay, the local tourist bureau, began a multimillion-dollar promotional campaign in the northern United States, Canada, and Europe to attract more visitors to Tampa during its "Gasparilla Season"