Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry
Ahoy, SouthShore. Yo Ho Ho. Please allow me to introduce you to SouthShore’s very own all-female Krewe. Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry… a merry band of philanthropic wenches who not only participate in parades but donate time and talent to local and Bay Area causes.
But First, A Bit of Krewe History
If you’ve lived in Tampa for any amount of time you’re sure to be familiar with the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade and the surrounding festivities. It’s a massive party that happens late each January in Tampa.
The parade was named for a legendary Spanish pirate by the name of Jose Gaspar, also known as Gasparilla. The story goes that Gaspar was famous for pillaging and pirating boats in the Gulf of Mexico.
Tampa’s first Krewe, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, came to be when a group of locals wanted to pay homage to the legendary pirate. They formed a Krewe, named it for the famed and plunderous pirate and hosted the first Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade in 1904, along with the City of Tampa.
The Gasparilla Parade festivities have gone virtually unchanged throughout the decades, barring a few off years during World War I and a move from May to January to coincide with the Florida State Fair.
The annual parade has also grown from a few early horse drawn floats and participating Krewe’s to what it is today – a massive parade which boasts over 60 Krewes (and their professionally designed pirate floats), marching bands and a total of 130 units.
So, What Is a Krewe?
In fact, a Krewe is not just a parading, bead-throwing group of folks. It’s much more than this.
While most Krewes do host events such as parades, balls, galas and the like (and they do throw beads), their primary mission is philanthropic – fundraising for various local charity and community organizations.
In return, Tampa Bay residents benefit from their fun and festive public events, such as the numerous parades local Krewes organize and participate in.
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry is SouthShore’s very own all-female Krewe, whose name comes from a legendary female pirate with an equally legendary life story that even Hollywood couldn’t make up.
Who Was Charlotte De Berry? Well, the story is a BIG one. I’ll give you the short version. Charlotte, a British woman despite her French name, fell in love with and married a navy man (it’s always love, isn’t it?) who was then promptly deployed by the Royal Navy. Charlotte couldn’t stand to be apart from her new husband so she disguised herself as his brother and deployed with him.
Eventually, her true identity was discovered, but not made known because the discoverer wanted Charlotte for himself and managed to have her husband killed. Charlotte rejected the husband-murderer and, in turn, killed him. Big Drama!
Next, Charlotte found herself working in entertainment until another ship’s Captain kidnapped her (this lady really went through the ringer, yes?) and forced her to marry him. He decided to bring her to Africa on his ship. But, being the tough gal that she was, she killed her forced-to-marry-husband in a duel and then convinced the entire crew to become pirates.
The rest of the story gets shadier from there. Charlotte later marries a wealthy Spaniard. They’re at sea on a big ship. A big storm comes. They’re forced to leave the boat onto rafts. They run out of food and Charlotte becomes the first victim, uh food source, for the others. Is this true? That’s for you to decide, but it is one fantastic story.
And, it’s a be-fitting tale for this fantastic group of Krewe women.
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry’s Charitable Work
“Established in 2000 by a generous group of women from Ruskin, Apollo Beach and points beyond, Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry was formed as a philanthropic band of wenches who not only participate in parades but donate time and talent to local and Bay Area causes. Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry is an all-female krewe of approximately seventy members and growing every day. We wear female pirate attire that spans centuries of changing fashion representing wenches of all ages and ethnicities.” [Courtesy of Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry Website]
Since organizing in 2000, the Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry has supported many different charities. The group follows the traditional ‘krewe season’ (September to August) and adopts a different charity each month to raise funds for.
In addition to Krewe member donations, for which they can ‘earn points’ and a place on the float during parades, the Krewe hosts various fundraising events such as bingo games, silent auctions and 50/50 raffles throughout the season.
The Krewe is supporting the following charities for the 2017-2018 season:
October: Hooked on Hope
November: A Kid’s Place
December: My Warrior’s Place
January: Hillsborough County Animal Services
February: Tampa Bay Defenders
March: Mary & Martha House
April: Paws for Patriots
May: CAHT (Campaign against Human Trafficking)
June: Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary
July: School Supplies
August: Voice for Children
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry’s Parades
Oh, these ladies know how to have fun, too, alongside their charitable work. They participate in several parades throughout the season, too, including:
Parades are ‘by invitation only’ and the floats must be professionally designed and built. Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry built a new float in 2016. All Krewe members worked about 5 weeks to put the finishing touches on it. Here we see the current Krewe Captain, Debi Winchester, christening the new float just before the Gasparilla Parade.
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry Organization
Are you a lady pirate looking for an outlet for your philanthropic ways? To join Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry you need to be sponsored by a current Krewe member. Members provide their own costumes and purchase beads for throwing in parades. They also attend monthly meetings and various charitable events throughout the Krewe season.
“Once you been in one parade,” Captain Debi Winchester says, “you’re hooked.”
Members earn points by attending monthly meetings and donating time or money to charities. This encourages participation in the Krewe. Members must accumulate a certain amount of points to walk in the Gasparilla parade.
Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry organization titles are fun and follow traditional navel titles such as Captain, First Mate and Purser, as well as some fun ‘pirate-y’ / Krewe titles like Madame of Web (in charge of the Krewe’s technology and social media), Madame of Mates (coordinates new members), Madame of Drill (in charge of the parade float), Madame of Revelry (coordinates charities), and Madame of Booty (manages the Krewe pins and medallions).
As leaders move through their 2-year terms they advance from Captain to Commodore to Admiral. Debi Winchester is the current Captain of Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry. Above we see former Captains who are now Commodores or Admirals.
Want to know more or are interested in joining this all-female Krewe?
- Ye Royal Krewe of Charlotte De Berry Website
- Connect with Captain Debi Winchester: firstname.lastname@example.org