KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The historic seafaring town of Key West is to become a pirate stronghold Saturday, Nov. 28, through Sunday, Dec. 6, when “brethren of the coast” and lively wenches invade the island for the 10th annual Pirates in Paradise festival.
Pirates in Paradise offers a packed roster of events for children and adults intrigued by the Florida Keys’ seafaring history and culture. Highlights include living history encampments, a plank-walking championship, nautical excursions and pirate sails, buccaneer bashes and much more.
Aspiring seafarers can experience sunset pirate cruises on the “pirate vessel” Schooner Wolf, scheduled to depart Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 28-29, from Safe Harbour Marina, 6810 Front St. on Stock Island.
The Wolf’s sunset sails and themed excursions depart from Key West’s Historic Seaport Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 2-6. Stretching along the harborfront between Elizabeth and Grinnell streets, the colorful seaport was once the heart of the island’s maritime industries. Call (305) 296-9694 for reservations.
Pirates and wenches can demonstrate their daring during the fifth annual National Walk the Plank Championships, set for 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. Entrants in this typically hilarious competition are to plunge into the deep from the Schooner Wolf, moored at the foot of William Street in the Historic Seaport. Plank-walkers are judged on their costumed attire, overall style, pleas for mercy and splash.
The festival schedule also features the Official End of America’s Hurricane Season Party Monday, Nov. 30. Featuring the symbolic destruction of hurricane warning flags by National Weather Service meteorologists, the event commemorates the day the National Hurricane Center has designated the end of the 2009 Atlantic basin hurricane season.
Festivities are set for 4:30 p.m. beside the U.S.S. Mohawk Coast Guard Cutter. Now a military museum, the Mohawk is docked at Key West’s Truman Waterfront beyond the end of Southard Street.
Prior to the party, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham is to be welcomed to its new home port alongside the Mohawk, with the event celebrated by a maritime holiday party aboard the two vessels.
Pirate aficionados can join buccaneers and wenches at the Fort Taylor Pirate Fest Thieves’ Market and Historical Encampment, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 3-6, at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Costumed pirate re-enactors are to recall the Golden Age of Piracy with living history pirate encampments at the Civil War–era fort. Planned attractions include fight circles, treasure, weapons demonstrations, kids’ games, entertainment by pirate bands and strolling minstrels, and vendors offering arts, crafts, period clothing and accessories.
Visitors can access the park and fort past the end of Southard Street beyond Truman Annex. A festival day pass is $6 per adult and $4 per child under age 12 with park admission. Call (305) 292-6713 for more information.
The festival schedule also features land battles between pirates and British forces, maritime and pirate museum exhibits, a walking tour of Old Town Key West and piratical parties galore.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, scallywags are to stage the re-creation of the trial of notorious female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, based on official trial transcripts. Spectators can watch the rowdy re-enactment at Key West’s Old City Hall, 511 Greene St. Admission is $10 per adult and $5 per child.
In addition, several swashbuckling soirees are planned to celebrate the 90th birthday of “Queen of Swing” Norma Miller, a longtime friend of the festival, including a dance featuring Lou Ragland and the legendary Ink Spots.
For more information and a complete Pirates in Paradise schedule, visit www.piratesinparadise.com or call (305) 296-9694. For lodging information in Key West, contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539), or visit the Keys Web site at www.fla-keys.com.
FOR MEDIA INFORMATION ONLY:
Contact: Andy Newman/Carol Shaughnessy
1-800-ASK-KEYS (800-275-5397) or (305) 461-3300