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USF Libraries Exhibits

Fun on the water

People are naturally drawn to beaches for fun and frolic.  There is something liberating and relaxing about spending time where land and water meet.  Florida’s unique climate and geography make the state a mecca for beach-going enthusiasts. Flanked by the Atlantic to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the state boasts over 660 miles of some of the finest beaches and water-themed recreational activities in the world. The Gulf Coast offers a plethora of recreational activities from paddling the thousands of miles of state-designated salt and freshwater “trails,” to scuba diving by the numerous artificial reefs.

City organizers and Tampa elites have held the annual Gasparilla pirate invasion since 1904, which celebrates the mythical pirate Jose Gaspar’s exploits and the area’s nautical nature when a pirate ship sails into the bay and demands the keys to the City of Tampa. It matters little that Jose Gaspar is a mythical character dreamed up by city promoters at the turn of the century, or that the British and U.S. navies had snuffed out piracy in the Caribbean before Florida even became a state. What is more important is that the celebration draws attention to Tampa Bay’s warm weather, scenic bay and lively atmosphere in the winter, as well as a chance for revelers to throw their inhibitions to the wind for a day.