Gasparilla runs in the family for the Hicks twins


Photo M. Aros

Ashlea Daniels, Staff Writer

Getting dressed up as pirates, wandering around for a few hours and screaming for plastic beads would usually seem odd to outsiders, but in Tampa it is an annual tradition. Early on, the krewe learns a few golden rules: don’t share your beads, save your beads for the crowds, and cover your ears when the cannons go off.

Margaret and Amelia Hicks know this better than most. Their dad has been on the Ye Mystic Krewe for around 20 years and they were introduced to the festivities at only four years old.

“I used to be afraid when he had his makeup on, I didn’t know he was my dad so I was always scared when he’d go near me,” Amelia said.

Not only would the twins get access to the floats, they also could go behind the scenes to see all the preparation that goes into making Gasparilla happen.

“We used to go to a tent at the yacht club by the pier to get the makeup done to all the pirates to make them all look scary,” Margaret said.

To the longtime residents of South Tampa, Gasparilla is more than just a local celebration.

“It’s been around for so long and it’s really a part of the culture and the history of Tampa and how it was supposedly found by pirates,” Amelia said.

After years of being involved in Gasparilla, the Hick sisters know that there is nothing else like it.

“It’s not about the beads, it’s about the experience,” Amelia said.

“[It’s about] sitting on the floats and the boats and the people, being dressed up,” Margaret said. “You have to go at least once.”