Avast, ye swabbies and scurvy dogs - don your swashbuckling finery and enjoy the parrrr-ty in the Bay St. Louis historic district!
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson and Lionel Haynes, Jr.
The event includes fireworks, the Pirate Play Zone kid’s playground and costume contest, a pub crawl and riverboat cruise for adult pirates, belly dancers, live music and craft vendors. The fest has become so popular that it has earned a spot in the Top 20 events in the Southeast. Organizers expect 3,000-plus people over the May 17-18 weekend. “Pirate Central” will be anchored at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Court Street, with vendors set up across Court Street.
As you might expect from the Seahorse Krewe, this bunch of pirates knows how to throw a party. The celebration starts on Thursday night with a special party for sponsors and members. The $25 ticket price includes drinks and food.
The general public festivities kick off at 4 pm on Friday, May 17 with the arrival of the pirates. On Friday evening you can buy a $20 ticket to the Pirate’s Pub Crawl, with a dozen local businesses participating, a scavenger hunt, and the Castaways playing music at 8 pm. This adults-only event requires tickets, which can be purchased in advance or at Pirate Central that day.
On Saturday, the Lil’ Buccaneers’ Parade starts at 11 am. Led by the Bay Ratz Marching Battery, the parade will begin at the corner of Main and Second Streets and end at Pirate Central. The costume contest, complete with prizes, begins at 1 pm. Kids can also enjoy the Pirate Play Zone, open from 11 am until 7 pm (fee required for entrance).
Saturday’s Pirate Cruise on the Betsy Ann riverboat is sold out, but you can enjoy the Pirate Invasion Parade when they come ashore around 5 pm.
Free non-ticketed activities in and around Pirate Central include performances by two local dance studios: Arabesque and the Studio of Classique Vibe and belly dancing by Amira. Vendors will be selling crafts all day, and Dr. Rock and the Interns will perform from 7 to 11 pm. Pirate Day wraps up at 9 pm with fireworks over the harbor, sponsored by the Silver Slipper Casino.
The event sponsors are Silver Slipper Casino, ABC Rental, Bayou Caddy Utility South, Rosetti’s Liquor Barrel, Vintage Lighthouse and Beacon Theater.
Rosetti said the Seahorse Krewe stays active all year and continues to grow, signing up locals and residents from Louisiana and north of I-10 as members on a weekly basis. Total membership stands at nearly 300.
Besides Pirate Day there’s the Seahorse Open, held the third weekend in October, the fun-packed Lundi Gras golf cart parade, and the Inspection Ball in June to announce the Krewe’s king and queen. “Then once a month we have a membership social at a business in town that has anywhere from 75 to 125 people,” Rosetti said.
Krewe members also take part in the Biloxi Shucker Halfway to Mardi Gras celebration and recently took second place in the Dancing with the Relay Stars in the fundraising division.
“Overall we went to continue to grow each year so we can give more and more back to the community,” Rosetti said.
The Krewe’s debut five years ago was part of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bay St. Louis, which featured a rousing reenactment between two Biloxi schooners. Look for another reenactment Dec. 12-13 for the 205th anniversary of the battle. Details can be found on the Krewe’s website or their Facebookpage.