GeekMom Talk Like a Pirate Day!: Get Yer Booty n’ Party fix at t’ Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

Thar she blows! Dads n' lads alike can enjoy the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival in Fort Walton Beach, FL! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

T’ Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival be held every June at t’ Fort Walton Beach Landin’, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Accordin’ t’ Wikipedia:

The festival honors the local pirate legend, and is unrelated to the Seminole chief Billy Bowlegs. Similar to Mardi Gras, the festival consists of a parade, fireworks, and associated celebrations. The festival originated in the 1950s as a boat and water skiing show. Contrary to popular belief, there is no period documentation supporting claims that William Augustus Bowles was named “Billy Bowlegs” (nor is there any evidence Bowles even set foot near what is today Fort Walton). The festival has a Mardi Gras flair rather than a historical focus, with locals dressing up in cocked hats (such headgear was not in fashion when Bowles was active in the late 1790s to early 19th century from his base near Apalachicola).

T’ festival website itself gives a much more positive spin on its history:

It started out as a water skiing festival in 1953, and has turned into one of the nation’s longest-running and most popular pirate festivals. Sponsored by the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and its annual sponsors, the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival always takes place on the first full weekend in June. People come by land, sea, and air to join in this family-friendly event.

Our family attended this past June and enjoyed great seafood, music and a pirate attack by t’ Krewe o’ Bowlegs. T’ music was wonderful, featurin’ a Texas-based pirate band called “T’ Bilge Pumps“.

T' lads put on their favorite (read: their only fittin') pirate t-shirts and brought their toy cutlass, eye patches and hats. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Go ahead, say it...What be that thin' on me youngest son's forehead? Photo: Patricia Vollmer
T' area be full o' fun antics for t' whole family t' enjoy! Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Most o' t' boats on t' water knew t' deck themselves out in their best pirate flags! Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Part o' bringing 3 pirates with me t' t' festival: lots o' mayhem! We got those popper thin's that you throw onto t' ground. My kids were annoying everyone.... Photo: Patricia Vollmer
This be t' Krewe o' Bowlegs pullin' up t' invade Fort Walton Beach. A festival tradition since t' 1950s! Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Tis' not a great picture, but you can see me two sons' AND me husband's hands out for those pretty girls t' throw out beads, "pirate booty" (doubloons), and candy. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Lads transformed t' pirates! Yaaaaaar!!! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 15. She is a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which is currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.