Buccaneer Days are back again in Esquimalt as the annual celebration continues its tradition of bringing families and the community together.
The time-honoured pirate party has been going on in Esquimalt for over 60 years.
Bob McKie, the long-time organizer of the event, said before the swashbuckling festival came into existence, the township celebrated May Day.
“They used to have a maypole and a May Queen,” McKie said.
The Buccaneer Days website said the City of Victoria discontinued its annual May Day celebrations in 1939 so Esquimalt began holding its own where they crowned a May Queen.
The May Day celebrations eventually evolved into Esquimalt Days and in 1966 became Buccaneer Days.
McKie said his father in-law was chair of Buccaneer Days for about 20 years. McKie moved to Esquimalt in 1967 and got involved with the event in 1971. He said he did so because he loves to help and volunteer.
“I love to watch the smiles on kids’ faces when they get on rides or win something,” McKie said. “We walk around the Midway and give kids of families who may not be able to afford it a free wristband to ride all day for nothing.”
Students at local schools can also enter a colouring contest and have the opportunity to win some wristbands to the Midway carnival.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins called Buccaneer Days a “long-standing tradition.”
“It is just so much fun to be able to think outside yourself, get in costume and join in on the fun on Buccaneer Days,” Desjardins said. “Everything from the morning Wakey Wakey all the way through the events, it’s really been a coming together of the community.”
McKie agreed, saying the Buccaneer Days have always been a great way for people to get together and connect.
About 800 people show up to the Saturday night community dance and some even go there to get together with people that they talked to 20 years ago, McKie said.
“Esquimalt is a very small community and we make it so that it’s fun for everybody whether you’re two years old or 100 years old,” McKie said. “There’s something for everybody to do.”
Desjardins said Buccaneer Days is also a great way for community groups that serve in Esquimalt to raise funds.
“It’s everything from Girl Guides to the high school to the anglers,” Desjardins said. “This is their opportunity for a fundraiser and they bring it on with food and plant sales and all sorts of things that help them give back to the community.”
This year’s Esquimalt Buccaneer Days are loaded with fun events from all ages including skydivers, a dog agility show, a kids play zone, a dance and the parade.
The celebrations begin on May 10 and last until May 12. A full schedule of events can be found online and esquimaltbuccaneersday.ca.