Owners of 2 black powder cannons.

Carriers of black powder pistols (for those who have graduated from “Swabbie” status).

Invaders of Amelia Island on Friday, May 3rd.

The Fernandina Pirates Club has been a staple of Amelia Island since 1973, and have enjoyed an active role in the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival for years. They have been proclaimed as “goodwill ambassadors” to Fernandina Beach and Nassau County, and spend much of their efforts donating time to charities like Joy to the Children and Adopt a Family. They are currently gearing up for the Year of the Golden Shrimp!

The famous Shrimp Festival Pirate Pirade – averaging over 100 floats per year – will be starting at 11:00am on April 27th, and is a favorite among longtime Festival attendees. They will also be invading the Island on Friday, May 3rd: coming in by boat, firing their black powder cannons, finishing with fireworks, and all in all making the rest of us yearn for buckled boots, red striped shirts, and maybe even just a touch of scurvy.

After the invasion Friday night, they will hoist a flag at the courthouse on Saturday morning, proclaiming the island as Pirate Island, and essentially taking the island over for its 9th time!

I was able to capture Mr. Lawrence Mackie, Fernandina Pirate for 23 years. After threatening him to a watery death in Davy Jones’ locker lest he answer me questions, he elected to answer me questions – arrrrgh, MY questions!

Figuring that the Pirates would be some of the best people to ask for questions about Amelia Island, my first request was for him to tell me the Top 4 places our guests should make sure to visit when they come to the island.

1. First words out of his mouth were: “Well we have the most beautiful beaches in the world“, and when I asked him to let me in on some of his favorite spots, he said he suggests to find the spots where you can drive onto the beach, especially close to Amelia Island State Park near the southern tip of the island. I should mention that you should have a 4-wheel drive vehicle before attempting to drive on the beach (I learned the hard way!) but that was his suggestion.
2. He raved about the Amelia Island Museum of History, its spoken tours, and the Shrimp Festival exhibit that will start on April 4th – complete with Fernandina Pirates of course!
3. His voice softened as he began to speak about the locals. “The people are one of the best things on this island.” The hospitality, the welcoming nature, “…everybody’s extremely friendly.”
4. The Historic District of Fernandina Beach:

  • the waterfront: “just beautiful”
  • petanque courts
  • unique bars and restaurants, including DogStar Tavern, the Green Turtle, and Florida House Inn.

Honing in on his Shrimp Festival must-see list, his Top 4 include:

1. Friday night’s Pirate Invasion, followed by fireworks
2. All the amazing ways that shrimp is made by the food vendors – shrimp twisters, even shrimp ice cream! and all the booths being for nonprofit companies
3. Sunday’s Blessing of the Fleet and Best Decorated Boat contest
4. All of the other fun contests, including Best Beard, Best (kid) Pirate, and the Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant. His advice is to hang around the foot of Centre Street so that you’re always close to everything.

We are taking reservations for the Shrimp Festival weekend – book now at 866-245-6099 ext. 0! Check out our first post on Shrimp Festival, and keep your eyes pealed for more in the weeks to come!