Tampa has a huge celebration every year called Gasparilla. It's a Pirate Invasion of grand proportion. It's been an annual event since 1904. Part of the joy of Gasparilla is attending the parades, and in all my parades I have yet to leave with less than 100-200 bead necklaces.
Being in Miami now, I didn't expect to be going back to Gasparilla any time soon. But we had an offer we couldn't refuse. We were to attend the main parade (over 100 floats) on the Bayshore as the guest of a major corporate sponsor, after which we were invited to their home for a post parade party. I thought, this was pretty awesome, but I promised myself I wouldn't bring home any more beads. After all, I had just finished two chandeliers and a mosaic, and my supply was nicely cleaned out, and I really don't have room for more in my much smaller craft closet.
We arrived at the corporate tent, and were promptly given a few necklaces, such a pretty one with the Jose Gaspar ship on it, I can't say no. Every table was covered in beads, and there were even a few large cooler size treasure chests filled. No - keep walking, I don't need any. But they were pink, and the necklaces are long, and the big beads, I don't have any of those.
Before you know it, the parade was starting. I had front row, up close and personal with the Pirates. It was awesome. Honest, I wasn't trying. I wasn't shouting or waving or fighting for them, well, as much as the people beside me. But then the age old frenzy started, and cries of BEADS, BEADS, BEADS could be heard throughout the land.
An amazing thing happened, magically one landed around my neck - that pirate had good aim as it was thrown from on top of a passing float. Then more landed at my feet, and some without effort were caught in my hand. Then there were the strolling pirates, who couldn't pass by without handing out a trinket or two.
In all, I ended up with about 75 necklaces, 10 "gold" doubloons a stuffed manatee, and a squishy light bulb And I brought them home.
A neat thing about the necklaces, yes I am now rationalizing my hoard, is that this year's were more fabulous than the plain beads from yesteryear. This year I got Pirate skulls and cross bones, butterflies, footballs, iridescent hearts, and Budweiser beer caps. And crawfish, and shrimp, and footprints, and faces, and palm trees, and pyramids...
When I got home, my daughter and her college roomie got busy decorating my lampposts in the backyard. Mardi Gras is coming up soon. With the remaining beads, including probably a good bit of the older stash, we had plans for a fabulous glittery tray for the party hosts (and former neighbors of my inlaws).
It ended up being a group effort. My mom-in-law had purchased the tray 15x23, and a wooden letter "B". We picked up some glue and some frame molding on clearance, so that we could rest some glass above the beads. My father-in-law got busy with an old saw and miter to cut them down to size. Then the fun began with my mom-in-law, daughter & I cutting up about 70 necklaces bead by bead. Then we got out the serious glue. Fortunately it was about 80 degrees today and perfect weather to work outside. Yes I am rubbing it in, it's the begining of February. I love living in Florida.
A few hours later and we had the finished product, and the beginning of a business plan to make many more of these. Maybe it's time to start selling some crafts. Hmm.