FORT MYERS BEACH — A myriad of mutineers descended on Fort Myers Beach on Saturday for the fourth annual Pirate Fest.
The event featured swashbuckling fun for the smallest of lads to full-grown pirates — even a few scurvy dogs.
“It gives us a chance to dress up and be something we’re not everyday,” said Josh Braxton of Naples, who was fully decked out in a captain’s hat and tights.
He and friend Steve Martin gnawed on oversized turkey legs as their girlfriends watched a nearby escape artist wriggle his way out of a straightjacket. Both young men recently moved to Southwest Florida and were looking for something different to do.
The zany four-day event — which runs through Monday — includes a varied lineup of entertainment from cannons firing on the dock to live “mermaids” performing in a tank under the bridge.
That was the favorite of 5-year-old Emmie Grabill.
“If you give them a dollar, they give you a shell,” said the amazed lass whose face was painted up as a rainbow cat.
Six-year-old Evan Waite donned a skull bandana and faux pirate goatee. He covered his ears as cannons boomed from an attacking pirate vessel, shaking the ground under his feet.
His family decided to come for a visit from Rhode Island to see his grandfather in Fort Myers this week just so they could join the fun at Pirate Fest.
“Everyone’s walking around in character,” his mom, Joann Waite said. “It’s so much fun. The kids think it’s so real.”
Evan Waite walked up to a Jack Sparrow look-alike and said with awe, “I have a Lego of you!”
The lad has been enamored with all things pirate from his toddler years, Joann Waite reported.
“He’s been a pirate for Halloween for the past four years,” she said, adding he’ll mix it up this year by trick-or-treating as a skeleton pirate.
Anna the beagle also got into the spirit, causing many passing pirates to stop for a photo of the mutt wearing a pirate hat bearing the skull and crossbones.
Kyler Carter and Connor O’Leary, neighborhood playmates from Bonita Springs, readied themselves for pirate battle before heading to the festival Saturday. Both youngsters bore “scars” on their faces from previous skirmishes.
“I did their faces at home, and we made treasure maps this morning,” said Kyler’s mother, Beth Kalvin.
A few sudden bursts of rain briefly interrupted festival activities Saturday, but they worked to the advantage of local restaurants and pubs where festival-goers took shelter.
Pirate Fest kicked off Friday with a pub crawl and Pirate’s Ball, featuring a costume contest for adults. A children’s costume contest was Saturday afternoon.
Pirate cruises, shows and roving characters entertained throughout the weekend dedicated to the nostalgic era when pirates roamed the sea.
“It’s so nice someone is doing this here now,” said David Jeffcoat, who dressed in character along with his son, Taegen. Jeffcoat formerly ran the Fort Myers Pirates Festival in the early part of the last decade.
“Pirates really were here in this area,” he noted. “And everybody loves pirates!”