The Spirit of Cigar City Krewe was founded and organized on May 9, 2006 by John Houseman, Frank Schiavone, Sam Lupo and Irma Lupo along with over 100 Krewe Members. We are a non-profit entity located in Tampa, Florida.
The purpose of this Krewe is to honor the history of Ybor City and our diverse heritage, to foster true volunteerism with a specific emphasis on Krewe charities and foster civic pride. We seek to encourage social interaction and friendship among members of diverse economic, social and religious backgrounds, to participate in the activities of the Tampa Gasparilla parade season and other similar activities by invitation. We strive to have as much fun as possible, to develop new friendships, to foster and encourage growth of our Krewe family and to insure that we treat others as we would wish to be treated.
Ybor City began when Don Gavino Gutierrez came to Tampa in search of guava trees. Meanwhile, Vincente Martinez Ybor had left Cuba with his workers only to have his cigar factory in Key West burn down. Gutierrez told his friend Ybor about Tampa, and the great possibilities that a port would bring. Ybor bought the 40 acres in 1885, and Ybor City was born. Soon after that, many cigar factories were built and attracted immigrants to come from Cuba to work. They were followed by Spanish, Italian, German, Jewish and many others. Within three short years, Ybor City grew from 700 to 10,000 people. Following the factories came restaurants, shops, coffee houses and social clubs. Ybor City continued to grow over the years, both in population and in history.
Many of us in the Krewe are descendants of these immigrants that came to Ybor long ago, and honor their history and their heritage by wearing costumes reminiscent of that time. The men either wear the traditional guayaberas with hats or a bolero jacket or vest with a long sleeve guayabera. The women dress in the typical Flamenco gowns, a bolero jacket or vest with long sleeved white blouse or the peasant dresses of that time. Our Krewe logo is proudly displayed on the back of the guayaberas, vests and jackets.
Our float is reminiscent of the old cigar factories that populated Ybor City. It is 40 feet long, 10 feet wide and 11 feet tall. The lower deck houses our full bar, our restrooms, the storage area and our sound system. On the front deck are 2 lampposts similar to those that line historic 7th Avenue in Ybor City and proudly displayed are the flags of the United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, Cuba and Sicily. Members devoted their talents and countless hours into building the float and making it a symbol of Ybor City.
Our Krewe motto sums it up best as to what we are truly all about:
“Remember, we are nostalgic, colorful and anything but boring!!"