Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All about Shrimp, Floats and Poufy Pirate Shirts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All about Shrimp, Floats and Poufy Pirate Shirts

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Macdonald, Times-Union staff writer

People addicted to shrimp will fill the streets of downtown Fernandina Beach this weekend at the 2002 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

The weekend celebrates the shrimping industry and the island's colorful past.

Part of that past includes pirates. Around 9:30 tonight, marauding pirates will invade the festival with cannons and guns ablazing. They'll run wild in the streets, pillaging and plundering their way through town. No man, woman or child will be safe (from the fun).

The mayhem repeats at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

With one good eye on getting a peg up on the competition, we sought out a pirate to find out where he might have buried his treasure. Most of the year, Lawrence Mackie is a law-abiding owner of his own landscaping business. About this time every year, however, the salt air calls him to invade the little town of Fernandina Beach.

Q: How did you get hooked on being a pirate?

A: About 12 years ago, the pirate club needed members. The members they had were older and couldn't handle it. We painted the float and had a good time. We act as ambassadors [for] Nassau County and Amelia Island, and we promote the shrimp festival.

Q: What is your role at the festival?

A: On Friday night [and again on Saturday], we invade the island and take it over. It becomes a pirate island during the shrimp festival. We mingle with the crowd and play with the kids. One of our two floats is parked downtown for the kids to play on. I get my picture taken more times than you can imagine.

Q: So, does someone have to walk the plank as part of the initiation process with your group?

A: No, but we do have an initiation process. We have had someone walk the plank in the past, but it dwindled our ranks down some.

Q: There must be a lot of paperwork involved in being a pirate, considering the workers comp claims with all the amputated legs, hands and poked-out eyes.

A: Not really. Pirates have their own code of ethics. There's nothing like that involved. But we do have our own judge, jury and everything.

Q: Burying treasure is a lot of work, and it doesn't draw much interest. …

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