Each year, in Tampa, Florida, hundreds of boaters hit the waves to celebrate the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which also hosts a land parade. Although the event had been called off this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, two conservative groups set sail on Saturday morning to keep the annual tradition going.
However, instead of being called the Gasparilla, it was called the Trumparilla MAGA Fest, serving as a tribute to former President Donald Trump. The event took place over the weekend from April 16 to April 18.
“The 105th Gasparilla Pirate Festival has been re-imagined with more fun, Patriotism and MAGA!” its website reads. The festival dubs itself as an “American First celebration of American Exceptionalism.”
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in February announced it was canceling the annual event due to the pandemic.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor previously said officials worked with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla to try and find a safe way to host hundreds of thousands of people during the pandemic but said “there was no secret treasure map.”
Castor said the city supported the Krewe’s decision to cancel the event.
Trumparilla T-shirts and other merchandise can be bought on the website, which says the event’s official sponsor was Conservative Grounds Coffee Shop, the Patriot Grounds PAC group and trump2024swag.com.
A schedule of the event included a pub crawl, a boat parade, a “Make America Great Again” rally and a “Roger Stone VIP” event. Stone, Trump‘s former adviser and close ally, was pardoned by the former Republican president in July last year.
Only five months earlier, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison and a $20,000 fine for obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering.
The idea of “Trumparilla” came off the back of both conservative groups criticizing the city of Tampa for hosting recent maritime parades during the pandemic, such as those celebrating the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“There was a boat parade for the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup, so why can’t there be another boat parade? So we started Trumparilla,” organizer Cliff Gephart said in an earlier interview with WTSP-TV.
The Trumparilla website says: “We believe that ‘cancel culture’ only exists to the weak and cowering, not to the real Patriots. Unless of course you’re football or hockey team, as the Tampa Mayor ‘granted’ their boat parades. Ironically no permission is needed, as boats are on Federal waterways.
“Both Cliff and Dion [festival founders] have dedicated their lives to supporting a President Trump‘s America First agenda. Together they have hosted dozens of Trump Rallies, Parades and #OperationFlagDrop’s from coast to coast. So once again they’ve setout to reinvigorate Americans by creating a 3 day President Trump Festival, centered by Boat Parade, in regions across America and soon The World!”
In addition, the Tampa Bay Young Republicans also set up a unofficial Facebook page to invite people to sail from downtown Tampa to Beer Can Island.
“ARRGHH!” the group wrote. “Pirates don’t cancel invasions and they don’t take orders from tyrants! If the Bucs can throw a boat parade, so can Ye!”
The Facebook invite tells people to “please leave politics aside,” though many of the boats were spotted with flags supporting Trump in the election last November.
Newsweek has contacted the organizers of Trumparilla for comment.