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Photo: Dr. Bill Carson courtesy of VisitTampaBay.com

January isn't only the beginning of a new year, but it's also the month one of Tampa's biggest festivals takes place - but only if you're willing to dress and talk like a pirate. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival on January 28th celebrates the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar and his invasion of Tampa, complete with a reenactment of the siege - it's basically Tampa's answer to Mardi Gras, but with pirates and yes, beads. 

The event is family-friendly, with a parade through the streets of South Tampa after the mayor "surrenders" the key to the city when the Gasparilla, Tampa's replica pirate ship with functioning cannons, docks at the Tampa Convention Center. Local bars and nightlife also partake in all the swashbuckling fun for landlubbers and seafarers alike. 

The Roanoke Times recently published an article about the Gasparilla Festival, featuring the Barrymore Hotel, which is located along the Riverwalk and near much of the Gasparilla action in Tampa. 

Enjoy the full article on the Roanoke Times website.