Every year Tampa has a big event called Gasparilla. It is apparently a lot like Mardi gras but I've never been so I'm just going to take people's word on that. What I do know is that this event involves a lot of people dressed like pirates (where all these people get these really impressive costumes I do not know) and people throw beads. There is also an "invasion" from pirates off a pirate ship. We heard it gets pretty crazy at night, so we headed over during the day to check out the festivities.
It was a bit more crowded and a little less kid friendly (we were with our friends and their two kids) then we anticipated, but we were able to have a nice lunch and watch the pirate ship "attack".
We also tried to watch the pirate parade, but after waiting an hour and a half (an hour after it was supposed to start) we all were tuckered out and decided to leave without seeing the parade.
It probably won't be an event that we go to every year, but it was fun to walk around and experience the craziness!