HISTORY OF THE ST AUGUSTINE PIRATE GATHERING
As told by Lee Pallas
In the spring of 2007 after several reenactors saw each other parading downtown St. Augustine as either a pirate, wench or a general 1700 period sailor; these reenactors decided to get together and establish a meeting place to do more to help bring smiles to the guests that come and visit St. Augustine, FL.
The first meeting was in the spring of 2007 and we met at the home of the founders of the organization that is now known as the Ancient City Privateers.
We would meet at their house on Spring Street in St. Augustine, This was the house of Scott and Mia Brewer. It did start slow as we first needed to ensure that all outfits where in fact period correct. This took several months as we perfected the outfits and the character or characters members were portraying. We started learning sword fighting, quarter staffs, and more as we started to grow with other reenactors that wanted to join in the fun.
With myself, Bonnie Nunn, Scot and Mia along with Blake Kelley, Silvia Martin McGinnis we developed the name Ancient City Privateers.
The group was born. We started having meetings every Tuesday in the evening and did a lot more performances within the city. We were then officially recognized by the City of St Augustine for their Menendez Birthday Ball.
The Ancient City Privateers then started doing paying gigs and realized we needed to establish ourselves as a business. That is when we registered ourselves as a Non-Profit organization with the state of Florida.
Now we had a little money coming in and we were being asked to participate in different events throughout Florida. It was then that we decided to have one of our own. In 2008 we began to create the First Annual St. Augustine Pirate Gathering. With a lot of help from the city's public relations team, a date was established and the event was in its planning stages.
We got the word out with help from all. Using the phrase "if you build it they will come" we built the foundation and they came. We had our first gathering at the Fountain of Youth, where we had 6 vendors, and a total of 250 patrons join us over the 3 day event. The weather was fine but got cold Friday night as we all camped out. The coffee pot froze, but the camp fires kept us warm and the music played way into the morning.
The next day the fun expanded as we had our first parade just for pirates and enjoyed the downtown area. That night we had our first Buccaneer Bash. Great music, great food, and an all-around good time was had. We must have done it right as the police were called for noise 4 times.
Sunday we were all recovering from the night before and pirate court was called for all of those who had too much fun the night before. With the judge at the wrong throne, the parties were defended and prosecuted and the guests had to decide the punishment. That in itself was very entertaining.
The profits made from the event were then donated to a new organization called L.A.M.P. Light House Archeology Program in the form of scholarships for underprivileged kids to attend their summer camp.
Year 2: the Second annual St. Augustine Pirate Gathering again orchestrated by Scott and Mia Brewer and the crew of the Ancient City Privateers, moved to Francis field on the west side of the St. Augustine Parking Garage. We needed a bigger area. It was a small fun filled event with an attendance of just over 1,000 people. 14 vendors and this year we added a pirate battle. This battle was a huge success. The city as well as the guests enjoyed it.
The parade was much larger with other pirate groups joining in and a lot more advertising. We were growing.
The St Augustine Pirate Gathering has been growing every year. Each year, becoming more and more entertaining, with a lot more vendors, food, and entertainment. Through the years, with the addition of period camping, the larger pirate battle, more vendors, more food, more pirates, and more guests the St Augustine Pirate Gathering became even more fun. But alas, we have again outgrown our environment.
We are now in our ninth year with an all new St. Augustine Pirate Gathering and now Buccaneer BBQ, reflecting the Buccaneers who were sailors driven from piracy and left to defend for themselves. Many of these became cooks of the wildlife that was so abundant in the area. They are now called Buccaneers the founders of what has become BBQ.
With the addition of Canvas Cove a living history of the life and times of earliest to the 19th century pirates and buccaneers, one can walk back in time. No electricity, No running water, just lanterns, fire pits, and tents, and by the way, no showers.