Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Devotee Youth Participate in Third Largest Parade in the US
By ISKCON News   |  Feb 13, 2024

Devotee youth and young adults from across Florida participated in the annual Gasparilla Parade held in Tampa, Florida, on January 20th, bringing the mercy of Lord Jagannath to the third-largest parade in the United States.

According to the city of Tampa, the Gasparilla Parade welcomes a crowd of around 300,000 every year to celebrate the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar’s invasion of the harbor. The parade, often referred to as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, features a lively procession of pirate-themed floats and marching bands. This was the seventh year that devotees have participated in the colorful event. 

Lord Jagannath’s beautifully decorated chariot joined 100 other floats along the 4.5-mile route through the coastal city. Around 80 brightly dressed devotee youth sang the Holy Names and danced in front of the rathcart for the entire length of the parade. “The mercy of Lord Jagannath, with his magnificent smile and the incredible power of the Hare Krsna mantra, left an indelible mark on the hearts of those in attendance,” said Gandarvi Rico, one of the youth participants. “In this way, younger generations get encouraged to keep Sri Caitanya’s mission under Srila Prabhupada’s instructions,” noted Bhadra Das, the principal organizer. While strict parade rules do not permit the distribution of books and prasadam at the end of the event, the Holy Names were distributed freely to the thousands gathered along the parade route. 

The parade was organized mainly by Bhadra Das with the help of Dharmaraja Das, who coordinated the chariot, along with Govinda Syer, who cared for the deities. Bhadra Das is well-known for coordinating many Ratha Yatras in places like St. Augustine, Daytona, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Clearwater Beach. 

To learn more about Ratha Yatras, visit the website.