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6/26/2013 2:00:00 PM
Pirates Take Towns And Crowds By Storm
Pirates stopped traffic during the Pirate Rendezvous. (E. Busby photo)
Pirates stopped traffic during the Pirate Rendezvous. (E. Busby photo)
By Eleanor Cade Busby

The 2013 Pirate Rendezvous took Damariscotta/Newcastle by storm on Saturday. This year's expanded beneficiaries include Family Holiday Wishes, Boy Scout Troop 213, and Great Salt Bay Community School's field hockey program.

Upwards of 2000 people attended the Pirate Rendezvous. Activities started early with a Buccaneer Breakfast at the Baptist Church. Pirates and His Majesty's Marines shared pancakes and prepared for the battles ahead.

The Black Rose II Privateers held a muster with cannon fire and flintlock weapons blazing at Battery Point on the Newcastle side of the river. General Tom demonstrated the methods used for loading cannon.

Safety was paramount in all aspects of the Pirate Rendezvous. Every precaution was taken with black powder shooting and fire-breathing dancers. Organizer Greg Latimer announced the schedule at the Crew Muster, tempering the excitement with cautions for both enactors and the crowds.

Dancers held the crowds captive at Schooner Landing in vastly different exhibitions over the course of the day.

Haus Paradigm with guests Northeast Winds danced in a whirl of colored fabrics culminating with a fire-breathing finale and fire dance. Nathifa Shakti Bellydance studio offered up traditional belly dance, sword dance and modern fusion combinations that brought cheers from the crowds.

Jeffrey Johns, 10, from Portland was philosophical about the fire breathing. "I was watching close," he said. "I think it was safe. She spit some stuff out and they lit it on fire. It was going away from her. It's awesome. "

Crowds gathered on the Damariscotta/Newcastle bridge, at the Damariscotta Town Landing and on the dock at Schooner Wharf for the highlight of the Rendezvous: the attack of the Black Rose pirate ship and her motley crew.

From the bridge across the Damariscotta River, tiny Pirates brandished their swords and hollered to frighten the villains away.

On the far end of the Schooner Landing pier, a small band of brave souls stood with muskets at the ready and returned fire.

Red Coats shooting back at the pirate ships defended the Twin Villages from Battery Point. Three cannons and black powder muskets fired ordinance from both shores.

The ship returned fire and the air filled with blue smoke, so thick at times the opposite shore vanished.

The pirates made landfall and took to the streets of Damariscotta, "plundering" their way from one side of town to the other. The ATM machine at Damariscotta Bank & Trust gave them pause, but not for long, as they found some loot in spite of the puzzling machinery.

Police sirens split the air during the 'robbery' as the Damariscotta Police arrived. "Everybody freeze. We're placing you all under arrest," Deputy Chief Chad Andrews announced by loudspeaker.

As the crowds prepared to rush the cruiser, Attorney Andrew Zulieve stepped forward and explained, "It's illegal to arrest pirates, as set forth in Supreme Court precedent, Blackbeard versus The State of North Carolina in 1717."

Andrews protested, but no one was willing to press charges against the pirates and the cruiser backed away to loud cheers from the crowd.

The streets were crowded, business was booming at local eateries and at vendors on the street.

Crowds joined in the company of the Black Rose II privateers. Many re-enactors who joined in the Pirate Rendezvous found groups of child pirates following them around. "We have to set a good example," said the Dread Pirate Blake. "They must learn to plunder properly or we'll get a bad reputation."

Two costume contests, one for pets and one for children drew a crowd at Schooner Landing followed by a Treasure Hunt that wrapped up the family events for the day.

Three local causes this year benefited from the popular event: Boy Scout Troop 213, Great Salt Bay Community School's field hockey program and the primary beneficiary Family Holiday Wishes.

Family Holiday Wishes provides toys, food and often clothing to children in this area who might not have Christmas or Hanukkah or any celebration at holiday time. Thousands of children have been the beneficiaries of the great efforts of Cynthia Simonds and Greg Latimer, and the Pirate Rendezvous make it all possible.

Word was already on the street about the area's next big event, the pumpkin festival. "This is such a great area to bring the kids," said Bethany York from Bangor. "It's small enough so we feel safe here and exciting enough to keep everyone entertained. We are coming back for Pumpkinfest," she said.

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