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The Story of the Krewe of Venus

Krewe of Venus is Tampa’s second-oldest Gasparilla Krewe and the very first co-ed Krewe.  Venus originated the tradition of throwing beads in the Gasparilla Parades. The heritage of the Krewe of Venus extends back over six decades in Tampa. Our founder, Mrs. Lucille Cochran, and members of the Tampa Women’s Club, established the Krewe in 1965.​

With support and representation from the New Orleans Krewe of Venus, first year activities were kicked off with Mardi Gras style Coronation Ball at the old Curtis Hixon Convention Center in the fall of 1965. Since then, each year Venus Kings and Queens have been crowned and our gala events have become an exciting part of the Gasparilla traditions in the Tampa Bay area.

The Full Story

Tampa’s annual Gasparilla celebration derives its beginnings from the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, who allegedly buried untold fortunes somewhere along the Florida coast. The treasure has never been found but the memory of the swashbuckling Gaspar was revived in 1904 when Miss Louise Frances Dodge, society editor of the Tampa Tribune, was planning the city’s first May festival. She decided to develop a theme for the affair based on the legend of Gasparilla.  “Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla” was born, with elaborate activities centered around the theme, including a costumed parade, parties and prizes for best floats. As Tampa grew, more activities were added to the festivities. In 1913, swashbuckling pirates arrived by ship for the first time.  

In 1965, our story begins. “Women’s dreams have a habit of becoming reality. It could be because they back them up with persistence, tenacity and willingness to work for an idea.” That was once written about Lucille Cochran who founded the Krewe of Venus 54 years ago. Members of the Tampa Women’s Club went to New Orleans for the 1965 Federation of Women’s Clubs annual meeting. The hostess club presented a repeat performance of the New Orleans Venus Ball as the convention’s entertainment. The Tampa members were so impressed that they asked the New Orleans’ Krewe’s officers about the possibility of another “repeat performance” in Tampa. The Tampa women received a commitment that, if arrangements could be made, the New Orleans Krewe of Venus would make a special guest appearance in Tampa in November.


The crescent city’s King and Queen, Dr. Anthony Russo and Mary Vandergrift, along with their Royal Court served as the Tampa Club’s honorary inaugural monarchs. The group flew its members, custom-made costumes, spectacular stages, sets and scenery to Tampa and recreated the splendor of a Mardi Gras tableaux ball on November 13, 1965. A new era of social life started that evening. A little less than a month later on December 7, 1965, almost 275 people filled the Tampa Women’s Club and formed Tampa’s second Krewe, named the Krewe of Venus in honor of the New Orleans organization that had played such a vital role in its birth. The Krewe of Venus continued to spice up the parade season when they introduced the most coveted of all Gasparilla trinkets – BEADS!

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Past Presidents

Mr. Steve Kasson

Mr. Dan Jackson

Mr. Michael LaVoy

Mr. Brandt Cosgrove

Ms. Helene "Sam" Sweger

Mr. Michael St. John

Mr. Tim Carver

Mr. Bill Calderazzo

Dr. Rick Rasmussen

Ms. Sharon Phillips

Mr. Jerry C. Herron

Mr. James V. Carver

Dr. Ralph B. Tennant (Deceased)

Mrs. Howard L. (Edna) Hill (Deceased

Mr. Earl H. Ware (Deceased)

Mr. Raymond S. Oliver

Mr. Victor W. Shumate (Deceased)

Mr. Robert L. Jones (Deceased)

Mr. L. N. Hutchinson, Jr. (Deceased)

Mr. John B. Hickey (Deceased)

Mr. Bernell D. Gardner (Deceased)

Mrs. Frank S. (Lucille) Cochran - Founder - (Deceased)

Past Captains of Arms of Venus

Ms. Kim Ridenhour

Ms. Becky Myers (Deceased)

Ms. Marianne Miller  
Ms. Sandy McLain
Ms. Claudia Clontz
Ms. Pat Gorzka 
Ms. Rachel Dalton 
Ms. Kimberly Wells
Ms. Diane Weisman 
Ms. Gail Cooper
Ms. Karen Gosselin 
Ms. Jane Lane
Ms. Jeanne M. Kill (Established in December 1996) - (Deceased)

Past Captains of King's Guard

Mr. Tony Pimenta

Mr. Blaine Camp

Mr. Steve Kasson

Mr. Dan Jackson
Mr. Michael LaVoy
Mr. Ted Hamilton
Mr. Steven Myers
Mr. Chuck Slaven 
Mr. James F. Kill 
Mr. Elvin Phillips (Deceased)
Mr. Gaylord V. (Chip) Wingate 
Mr. William (Bill) Calderazzo 
Mr. Joseph E. Murphy (Deceased)
Mr. James F. Kill 
Dr. Robert Neuhart 
Gen. Robert C. Beyer Jr. (Deceased)

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