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Pirates invade Port Columbus this weekend

This weekend, more than 60 pirates from at least seven states will take over the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus. And that’s not counting people who will visit the museum, just to gawk at the pirates.

When the museum decided to change the Pirates of the Chattahoochee event to the Southern Pirate Festival, Jon Ezzell, the director of communications, had no idea what to expect.

“This is technically the fourth annual pirate event,” he said. “We decided to make it bigger and better. We knew there were other pirate events. What we didn’t know was how big a thing pirates and pirate events are. It is a much bigger deal than any of us knew.”

Ezzell’s wife is sewing his costume, which he said will be much better than what he wore last year. Most of the staff will be dressed as British sailors.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. as pirates take over the Water Witch, and will continue until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“This is our one event that is just for fun,” Ezzell said. “There is no Civil War tie-in, though there were what the Confederacy called ‘commerce raiders’ that the other side called ‘pirates.’ ”

Probably most famous of the Confederate pirates was Capt. Raphael Semmes of the C.S.S. Alabama, Ezzell said.

The local pirates, including the Port Columbus crew, are called the Pirates of the Chattahoochee. They are being aided by the Cursed Few and the Cutthroat Titans.

There will be several skits performed throughout the day, music and a treasure map with which one lucky pirate can find a treasure.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Ezzell said.

The Dead Buccaneers Ball will be inside the museum after the day’s activities.

“You have to wear a pirate outfit,” Ezzell said. “But you have to be a dead or undead pirate. You’ll have to be creative for your costume.”

The deadline to buy tickets has passed (because it’s catered, the museum needed the number of people early), but walk-up tickets for the ball only are $15 at 7:30 p.m. Performers include the Brigands, a pirate band that plays sea chanties, and DJ Bilgemunky, “who is well-known in the pirate community.

“We’re hoping for nice big event this year,” Ezzell said. “It will be a heck of a lot of fun interacting with all the pirates.”

And if you are a registered pirate, you can camp on the museum grounds.

“There will be vendors selling pirate jewelry and clothing and they’ll be mixed in the the pirate village,” he said.

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