Colorful floats carrying bead-throwing pirates, Rough Riders, Caballeros, and a whole host of others have been a mainstay of Gasparilla for decades.
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla started the parade in 1904, and the first floats were mainly wagons pulled by mules and horses, though a handful of automobiles were decked out in flowing fabric and fresh flowers.
As the years went on, floats became more elaborate. Some were self-propelled, while others were towed by tractors and Jeeps after World War II. The self-propelled float became more popular after the war, but that style had its limits.
The diesel engines, mostly repurposed from busses and tractors, were prone to breakdowns and occasionally catching on fire.
Beginning in the late 1990s, floats began transitioning back to being towed by vehicles.
This allowed for larger, more elaborate floats that now offer entertainment, sound systems, ample room for Krewe members, and, yes, bathrooms. So when you are shouting for beads this Gasparilla, take a moment to consider the parade floats and how far we’ve come from the days of decorated Model Ts.