May 28, 2022

Wenches, Ribbons & Wreaths: Wreaths of Gasparilla adorning the gates of Bayshore and beyond

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A South Tampa woman is helping other pirates spruce up their homes along Bayshore Boulevard and beyond before Gasparilla sets out.

Cherie Ward has been making custom Gasparilla wreaths for 10 years, starting as a hobby with a friend and first making them as Christmas gifts.

Now she takes orders all year round for these extravagant pieces that others will decorate for the season.

The process is year-round, but Ward said it really picks up in October when she starts collecting the trinkets that adorn the wreaths, like swords, skulls and other things you usually find. around Halloween.

She and her husband also begin preliminary work around this time, painting crowns and treasure chests and other small jobs to be done.

“I usually get a lot of orders right after Christmas or just before Christmas…I’ll be getting orders until next week,” Ward said.

She said most crowns take her around three hours to make, but admitted it could be longer, as she describes herself as a perfectionist and likes to have a bit of creative freedom with her crowns.

“I like it. Just tell me the colors and what you don’t like, because some people don’t like coconut pirate heads or skulls,” she said. “So just tell me what you don’t like and I love creating it. The hardest ones are when they’re just very specific, that’s exactly what they want, which I find sometimes, I’m afraid they’re not happy with how it’s going.

Prices range from $165 to $200, but much larger wreaths with more embellishments can slip into the $200s. Ward said when a customer contacts her, they can also tell her how much they’re willing to spend.

Ward said her biggest and most elaborate commission was the first year she started selling her wreath when a family in Bayshore hired her to make a giant wreath, which she said barely stood on end. the back of his SUV.

“It was everything but the kitchen sink. We even took it home because they wanted more stuff on it. And I remember taking the skull out of my kids’ aquarium, cleaning it up, and putting it on the crown and it looked great. He had guns, he had swords, there was everything on that crown,” she said.

Her attention to detail and creativity are things she says her family teases her about.

“My kids are like, ‘oh my God, my mom is going to sell it. If it’s not nailed down, it can end up on a crown!’” she said.

The Friday before the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Ward is still taking orders to have the wreaths ready in time for the pirate invasion and parade scheduled for January 29. She said her last day to work on the crowns would be Thursday.

Ward said the end of the parade was not the end for Gasparilla.

“Honestly, even after Gasparilla, the season continues. You don’t have to take your crown off the day after Gasparilla,” she said. “And that’s what I think is great about this holiday is everyone gets the Christmas blues, takes off their Christmas stuff, pulls out Gasparilla’s wreath and moves on to the next holiday, and that’s is an easy and fun vacation. And you can continue until after the race if you want!

Wreath orders can be picked up at Ward’s home and she delivers to the South Tampa area.

You can find her on her two Facebook pages, Gasparilla Wreaths and Wenches, Ribbons and Wreaths.