Pirate Black Caesar Returns to Key Largo

Black_Caesar, Florida Keys — According to history and legend, the Black Caesar roved Florida’s coastal waters in the early 19th century. According to the organizers of the Pirates Festival, set for October 23-25, the notorious pirate will make a comeback during the festival.

The festivities are to kick off Friday, Oct. 23, with a parade down U.S. Highway 1. The procession is expected to gather at 5:30 p.m. along Caribbean Drive, ending at the Holiday Inn Tiki Bar, mile marker (MM) 100 oceanside — not far from the place where Black Caesar is thought to have maintained a harem and buried treasure worth millions of dollars.

Float judging and a costume contest are to begin at the Tiki Bar at 7 p.m., along with a Pirate Bash on the Bay with live music. Tickets for the bash are $20 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Those eager to come face-to-face with the fearsome pirate — or at least his modern-day stand-in — are likely to do so Saturday, Oct. 24, from noon to 11 p.m. at MM 104 bayside. Caesar and his buccaneer brethren might be spotted haunting the Pirate Bazaar and Thieves’ Market, set to begin at noon at the Big Chill, Sundowners, Cactus Jacks & Señor Frijoles. Pirate paraphernalia, memorabilia and art are to be among the attractions for attendees.

Also Saturday, scallywags are to take to the high seas for underwater treasure hunts and an underwater poker tournament. Along with an above-water contest open to the public, the underwater action is part of a three-day Pirates’ Poker Challenge that coincides with the festival.

For nongambling types, a concert on the water on Blackwater Sound commences at 2 p.m. off Sundowners and the Big Chill bayside complex.

The pillaging and plundering is to intensify at 6 p.m. as pirates invade Key Largo in a professionally choreographed re-enactment of Black Caesar’s return — complete with artillery line, encampments, battles and skits on Blackwater Sound.

Like the concert, these can be viewed from Sundowners and the Big Chill. Grog, grooves and golden treasure are to abound as the bazaar continues well past the blasts of festive fireworks set for 9 p.m.

The action Sunday, Oct. 25, is to include Black Caesar’s By-Land-or-Sea Poker Run beginning at 11 a.m. at Sundowners, MM 104. Pirates are expected to hit ports of call such as the Bayside Grille, Snappers, Mandalay, Pilot House, Coconuts and Gilbert’s Resort.

Key Largo Pirates Festival organizers also plan to host The Good, The Bad & The Ugly costume contest at a location yet to be determined. Prizes await the sexiest and scariest pirates, best buccaneer and best wench. In addition, revelers can enter conveyances including bikes, cars and boats in a contest for best-decorated conveyance.

The pirate festival is to culminate in a Buccaneer Finale at the Caribbean Club, MM 104 bayside. Attendees can expect to find wild-eyed pirates jiving to live music and imbibing the island’s grub and grog before the climactic handing over of the loot.

For a complete parade route and more festival information, visit www.keylargopiratesfest.com or call Sue Finney at (305) 394-3736.

For information on area accommodations, call the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at (800) 822-1088 or (305) 451-4747, or visit the official Florida Keys & Key West Web site at www.fla-keys.com

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