Gasparilla’s first all-female crew turns 30

TAMPA, Fla. — This year, Gasparilla’s first all-female Krewe celebrates its 30th anniversary. During this time, the Krewe of Grace O’Malley grew to over 350 members and several generations.

They continue to prove, year after year, that women can be pirates too.

“For little girls to see this and grow to want to be you couldn’t ask for anything better, what a model, we have a Krewe full of them,” Karla Graziano said.

Graziano is so proud of his newly renovated float, Rockfleet, named after one of the castles where Grace O’Malley lived.

“Grace O’Malley was an Irish pirate in the 1600s, which is why we wear the dresses we wear,” Graziano said.

For Jeanne Rowe, riding a tank like this was once just a dream.

“I remember when I was a kid and I used to go to parades with my parents and I remember telling my dad I was going to be a pirate one day and he said, ‘Jeanne only men can be pirates ‘, well we showed him,” Rowe said.

Rowe is one of many members to also have a daughter on the Krewe.

“It’s great fun to do the parade with my mom, we can throw beads together and see the city in a different way,” said Jenna Lee Hughes.

Then there’s Grace O’Malley’s ship, The Queen of the Sea, another float that will be filled with ladies of grace, like Rachel Floyd and her mother Kelly.

“There’s nothing like it, I feel so lucky to be able to share this with her every year, really day to day because we’re so involved,” Rachel said.

The Krewe said that with all the fun also comes the responsibility to give back. This year, their favorite charity is Habitat for Humanity.

“This group of ladies, we’re powerful, we’re strong, and we’re even better when we’re all together,” Hannah Hall said.

So when you watch the parade, remember: real pirates wear dresses.

“People recognize our Krewe, they recognize our dresses, they look for us on the parade route because when we’re 200 dressed like that walking down the parade route, it’s definitely a sight to behold,” Graziano said.

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