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By Ashley Thornton
Community members of Cedar Key have gotten creative when it comes to bringing in revenue for local businesses. They’ve formed their very own pirate group called the Cedar Key Pirates in Paradise and will be hosting Cedar Key’s first pirate weekend Sept. 13-15.
“The Cedar Key Pirates in Paradise is a group of people of all walks of life, many are business people,” said Bobby McCabe who is helping to coordinate the event. He explained that it was thought up as a way to increase tourism during what he called “historically a very dismal time” in mid-September. The effort started with a small meeting of about a dozen people, including business owners and city government. “From there we were off to the races,” he said.
McCabe explained that pirate festivals happen all over the country and in almost every coastal town in Florida. The Cedar Key event is to be a little different than most with no outside vendors being invited so that local businesses will reap the benefit of the influx of people.
“It’s a great way to explore Cedar Key and have people all over explore what we’re calling the best little pirate town in Florida…Our goals are simple, but we mean to have fun and make a lot of friends while we do it. It’s a unique opportunity for Cedar Key to showcase local businesses, natural beauty, and the hospitality of its people,” said McCabe. Funding for the event was provided by local residents and the business community. They hope to have 150 pirates attend this year and double that next year.
“We sought out and received tremendous support from what we call the pirate community,” McCabe said of a group he describes as creating groups for fund raising and using the pirate persona as their means.
The Cedar Key Pirates in Paradise are making the event a charitable effort with the goal of raising enough money to fund two $1,000 scholarships for kids attending Cedar Key schools who plan to go to college or further their education through trade school. Raffle items have been donated by local businesses to help raise the money, with items ranging from a hand blasted, pirate themed rum bottle to a lace pirate theme tu-tu. Tickets can be purchased at the Thieves Alley on 2nd Street across from City Hall.