A couple of years ago I met with a friend’s elderly father who had no fewer than 3 generations of photos (spanning more than 100 years) that needed attention. He seemed doubtful that anyone had any interest in the photos but himself! But as soon as we started looking at them and talking about them, he really opened up. He talked a lot about the carousels upon carousels of slides that he had. I asked if he wanted me to scan one tray so he could see them again. He randomly grabbed an unmarked tray and said “Sure, you can do it, but nobody cares about these photos except me.”

I can’t tell you how surprised I was when I started scanning the images. They are from the Gasparilla Parade from 1954 – its Golden Jubilee year. If you’re not familiar with Tampa’s annual pirate invasion, I’ve written about it before. Incidentally this year, 1954, was the year that the Jose Gasparilla II was commissioned. It’s the world’s only fully rigged pirate ship, docked year-round on Bayshore Boulevard except for the invasion day when it is out in Tampa Bay.

Angel, the photographer of these images, was standing at the corner of Franklin Street and what is now Kennedy Boulevard – then Lafayette Street. The parade is heading south on Franklin Street. In some of the photos you can see the blade sign of the Tampa Theatre in the distance. You can also see the back of the Hillsboro Hotel on Florida Avenue between Twiggs and Madison Streets which is now, I believe, a parking lot. I’m not sure exactly when the Hillsboro was demolished.

All photos by Angel Rañon, and thank you John Rañon for giving me permission to publish these stunning photos! Click on any image to see it larger.