ALEXANDRIA BAY Dozens of boaters and jet skiers in the St. Lawrence River just off of the shoreline of Scenic View Park on Saturday formed the backdrop to pirates invading the village.
As hundreds of people watched from the hillside in the back of the park, a British camp was set up on Casino Island as canons, gun fire, cheers and pleas to the crowd to help save the bay were heard. Participants dressed in period attire and pirate costumes docked the sail boats, and took the mayor, who then walked the plank before diving into the river.
The crowd erupted in cheer, as one of biggest highlights of the annual Bill Johnstons Pirate Days concluded. The pirates then shared their treasure of Mardi Gras-style beads with the crowd.
It takes a community to put a show on, said BJ Mosher, an organizer of the invasion, and a pirate character. We need more funding to be able to get bigger ships and put more events on.
The 10-day event takes place throughout the village, and has participation from businesses that decorate shops, to agencies that host special activities and people that come from throughout the north country, state and beyond. Many children and adults were decked out in pirate hats, eye patches, belts, hooks and swords, which encouraged event characters to come more alive.
Cape Vincent resident Elizabeth W. Duran said she was impressed with how involved participants and many community members were throughout Saturdays events. It was her first time attending the event with friend Anne Dehaan, husband Charles, and children Nyssa E., 5; Natasha, 3; and Maximus A., 2.
Were into pirates and Renaissance festivals, Mrs. Duran said. At least people here are dressing up in period. Getting to take pictures with pirates and see the ships is what the (kids) wanted.
Pirate Days began Friday, and continue until Aug. 18. Throughout that time, a sword-fighting group will perform in locations around the village and places along Route 12, and various entertainment groups will perform. Other events include a childrens buried treasure hunt, a pirate adventure cruise, a weapons demonstration, pirate crafts, and parades.
According to the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce, an event sponsor, Bill Johnston was a renegade after the Patriots War, who blew up the British steamer Sir Robert Peel, hid among the Thousand Islands and was hunted by both U.S. and Canadian authorities. The annual Bill Johnstons Pirates Days celebration commemorates some of his exploits.