WHEN PIRATES TOOK OVER JOHN’S PASS

One of Tampa’s many, lots of, frequent, obsessive compulsive behavior involving pirates.

A crowd of a costumed revelers
A crowd of a costumed revelers… aren’t the kiddy pirates (slaves?) cute?

I thought John’s Pass found its place on Madeira Beach because of its long, soft sandy beaches, a good sweet shops per child ratio, and enough Northerners shopping in khaki shorts and straw hats. Not according to legend which has pirates discovering the Pass… and every year pirates are “invited” to invade the Pass all over again.

John LeVique Pirate Days was a weekend long celebration featuring… who else… pirates! Yes—it’s definitely a bit strange to be eating an Italian sausage along the beautiful waterfront then have a crowd of pirates with inconsistent accents run by—with wooden tankards of beer of course. And don’t think an eye patch, corset, and plastic sword will grant you acceptance into this insane posse. Despite the heat, every costumed reveler looked prepared to deliver a demonstration for National Geographic photographers.

The pistols and water gun fight between boats
Boats zip around the pass while its passengers shoot each other with water guns.

Perhaps the strangest event on Saturday was the “Sea Battle.” The water was suddenly filled with jet skis, yachts, a faux pirate ship, and motor-powered canoes… and all passengers were shooting water guns at each other! (Because in the pirate days, water was an unlimited resource that brought swift death when sprayed in a thin stream) And every few seconds, pirates on the water fired the sharp crack of a “pistol” to draw attention that every 10th costumed person on the water was a pirate—the other 9 were dressed as tourists. From our perch pressed against the waterfront’s railing, it was difficult to enjoy others having more fun. Next time—I’ll get my jet ski and supreme water gun.

The entire Pass was alive with people. At the entrance a man escaped from ropes then later debuted his “live mermaid” in a large tank. Bands poured rock music into the air. A pirates pub crawl called attention to several watering holes. And between the two main plazas that create the shopping center called John’s Pass, rows of tents were hawking everything from food to jewelry to art to pirate accessories.

The large crowd watching the "Sea Battle."

The cool breezes from the Bay allowed the walk everywhere to be more enjoyable. This was a great time to rediscover John’s Pass and the charm it oozed. The revelry was open and fun for families while still allowing some private fun for pirate and their posse to still hit the ale.

View pictures of the pirate revelry by clicking on my pictures

John LeVique Pirate Days 2012
Date of visit: May 12 (this is a late entry—pirates kidnapped me)
Location: John’s Pass on Madeira Beach (near St. Petersburg, Fl)
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