Making out like pirates, weather permitting

Considering that all but one member of my Hodgson family crossing the Atlantic in 1710 was decimated by French privateers, I find nothing romantic about pirates.

Even with legal sanction, as privateers were, they remained thieves and brutes of the seas. Well, though, there were apparently a number of unwritten understandings. Or else someone walks the plank. Or, in our case, died of maltreatment.

That said, one of Eastport’s two biggest events of the year comes the weekend after Labor Day, when everyone celebrates the city’s Pirate Festival. Yes, those black flags with the white skull and crossbones fly everywhere, even on seagoing fishing boats and the passenger ferry. And many folks dress the part to the hilt, even with what sometimes looks like a kilt. Some of the costumes are quite exquisite in their detailing, while others are pretty loose, like the guy in Hawaiian shirt and a pirate vest and hat.

It really does start to feel like a step back in time.

For the record, the port was once abuzz with smuggling to and from neighboring Canada.

History aside, I can’t complain about the special events and its welcome crowd that extend the summer season, even if I had thought it would mean I’d have to keep my mouth closed.

The big small-town parade includes a raft of family ATVs decked out for the occasion.
And an ambulance with its own sense of gallows humor.
And my own favorite, a float with a Jamaican steel drum band.

What we have is essentially a seafaring blast, with people strolling the street in period garb and canes. Some of them cross over into steampunk, which also fits the later steamship period, I suppose, and I do love watching for the anachronisms, like the cell phones and plastic water bottles in hand.

There’s plenty of up-to-snuff music-making, street dances, magicians and Punch-and-Judy presentations, a barrel relay race, even cutlass instruction for children armed with foam noodles.

Of special note are the flaming dance performances by Ravenbane’s Firecraft and the Saturday night fireworks at the Fish Pier.
There are decorations everywhere.

It’s like trick-or-treat nearly two months early, and the decorations can stay up till Halloween. I’ve been surprised at the light-hearted air of the celebration, one without the demonic undertow of Salem, Massachusetts, approaching November.

I do appreciate the appearance of parrots on some costumes, so much so I keep calling this our Parrot Festival.

As a footnote, last year’s attendance was curbed by the Canadian border closures due to Covid. Community here extends on both sides of the international boundary.

Just what is it about pirates that captures people’s imagination?


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