KEY LARGO, Florida Key — According to history and legend, the notorious pirate Black Caesar roved Florida’s coastal waters in the early 19th century. Now, some 200 years later, he is set to “return” during the Key Largo Pirates Fest Oct. 21-24.
The festivities are to kick off Thursday, Oct. 21, with a Captain Morgan Look-Alike Pirate Plunder Party at Snapper’s Restaurant, mile marker (MM) 94.5.
Friday, Oct. 22, a Black Caesar’s Parade is slated to head down U.S. Highway 1. Participants are expected to gather at 5 p.m. at the Pilot House, located on Seagate Boulevard at MM 99.6, and continue along the fabled highway to stage an invasion of the Marina del Mar Resort and Marina, 527 Caribbean Drive at MM 100 — not far from the place where Black Caesar is thought to have maintained a harem and buried treasure worth millions of dollars.
Float judging and a costume contest are to follow, along with a Pirate Bash on the Bay with live music, dancing, grub and grog. Late-night revelers can head to Coconuts Night Club for an after-the-party party starting at 10:30 p.m.
Those eager to come face-to-face with the fearsome pirate — or at least his modern-day stand-in — are likely to do so Saturday, Oct. 23, from noon to 11 p.m. at MM 104 bayside. Caesar and his buccaneer brethren might be spotted haunting the Pirate Bazaar and Thieves’ Market at Sundowners and Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill. Pirate paraphernalia, memorabilia and art are to be among the attractions for attendees.
The pillaging and plundering are to intensify as pirates invade Key Largo at sunset in a professionally choreographed re-enactment of Black Caesar’s return — complete with artillery line, encampments, battles and skits on Blackwater Sound.
Spectators can watch from Sundowners and the Big Chill. Grog, grooves and golden treasure are to abound as the bazaar continues well past the blasts of festive fireworks set for 10 p.m.
Sunday, scallywags can take to the high seas for underwater treasure hunts and an underwater poker tournament. Along with an above-water contest open to the public, the underwater action is part of a By-Land-Or-Sea Pirates’ Poker Run that coincides with the festival.
The festival is to culminate in Sunday’s Buccaneer Bash and Finale at Pontunes Marina, Tiki Bar & Grille, MM 108 bayside, starting at 4 p.m. In kids’ and adults’ costume contests, prizes await the sexiest and scariest pirates, best buccaneer and best wench. Rowdy revelers can expect to find wild-eyed pirates jiving to live music and imbibing the island’s grub and grog before the climactic handing over of the loot.
A complete schedule of events and festival information can be found at www.keylargopiratesfest.com.
For information on area accommodations, call the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at 800-822-1088 or 305-451-4747, or visit the official Florida Keys & Key West website at www.fla-keys.com.