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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, February 9, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

Sons of Blackbeard popping up all over

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

There were undoubtedly many excellent reasons woven into Wednesday’s commitment of 26 young football players to become Pirates. To those well-thought decisions I add one final, less substantive reason to don an ECU jersey: Pirates are oh-so fashionable these days.

Okay, so that one might not make the top of an assistant coach’s talking points on his next recruiting visit. But if two programs are neck and neck and a recruiter needs that final oomph to push the Pirates to the top, the all-the-rage status of buccaneers certainly can’t hurt.

If you live in Greenville, this piracy trend might be news to you. After all, Jolly Roger flags and swords have always been ubiquitous within a five-mile radius of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. But now it seems the rest of the nation is catching up to the idea that pirates, and pirate stuff, are cool.

The evidence? Two weeks ago I was at Disney World with my kids at the Magic Kingdom’s Pirate and Princess Party. Boys, girls, men and women of all ages were dressed in full Pirate attire, some with Rastafarian hair like Captain Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack, of course, as immortalized by Johnny Depp, is responsible for some of this madness, especially the pirate products and events that are sponsored by Disney. What did we bring my 2-year-old son, who stayed with his grandparents while the rest of us went to Disney World? A stuffed Mickey Mouse wearing a pirate costume.

But the current penchant for Pirates doesn’t stop at theme parks or on the silver screen. As a quick Internet search proves, hundreds of adults in all parts of the country spend their free time trying to dress, talk and walk like pirates — minus the actual acts of barbarism.

“If you like the feel of the waves beneath your feet, swaggering when you walk, wearing an eye patch, or simply enjoy saying “Arrrrrrrr!!!!,” then come along and join up!” reads the Web site for the Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast, a pirate re-enactment group that has “ships” in nine cities in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and West Virginia.

The founder of the Buccaneers, Scott Rorie of Cary, has been taking part in re-enactments for decades, but years ago when he decided to try his hand at piracy, other swashbucklers were rare. Now, his wife Ann said, “Pirates are everywhere.”

Members of scurvy groups like the Buccaneers are encouraged to find authentic costumes and to create their own pirate persona, complete with a pirate name and a full glossary of buccaneer lingo. And if you crave life as a pirate but you need some assistance with those unique pirate speech patterns, be patient — the International Talk like a Pirate Day is coming on Sept. 19.

The Internet is a hotbed of pirate-themed excess, with countless sites devoted to purchasing the clothing needed to pillage on the high seas. For a scant $350, you can custom order a pirate costume from Australia on eBay, and everything from stovepipe fighting pants to a Napoleonic pistol to a tall pewter tankard can be yours at

In one afternoon, I found everything you could ever need to take following the Pirates one giant step further. The only thing that has eluded me thus far is that special person who spends some weekends screaming for the Pirates and the others becoming one of them.

I inquired with the leaders of several North Carolina pirate re-enactment groups, and none have any ECU fans among their membership. But I know such a double Pirate has to be out there somewhere. When we find him, he might come in handy on those recruiting visits when the time comes to convince a young athlete to weigh anchor with the mateys at ECU rather than landlubbers elsewhere.

After all, you’ll search fruitlessly for a pop culture phenomenon centered on wolfpacks, or demon deacons, or even salukis. For now, the bandwagon is a seaworthy structure with multiple masts and cannons mounted on its gunwales.

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02/23/2007 01:14:36 AM

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