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Despite city's logo, Treasure Island is short on swashbucklers

This symbolic swashbuckler, known to many simply as Bucky, was donated to the city when the Buccaneer motel was torn down.

Times (1997)

This symbolic swashbuckler, known to many simply as Bucky, was donated to the city when the Buccaneer motel was torn down.

The town of Treasure Island may be in the middle of its most serious pirate shortage.

The landmark swashbuckler that once graced the roof of the Buccaneer Resort Motel on Gulf Boulevard has been missed by beachgoers since 2005, when the building was demolished.

More recently, the pirate that welcomed residents and visitors to the island for decades was removed, leaving a lowly planter where the cutout sign once stood.

In a town where the city logo sports a bearded pirate with his chest of booty, the once eye-catching likenesses are noticeably absent, leaving the Thunderbird Beach Resort's sign as the reigning Treasure Island landmark.

Pirates Cove, a gift shop on Gulf Boulevard, may be one of the last locations to proudly display a life-size pirate in town. The eye-patch wearing, hook-handed scoundrel can be seen standing guard at the front door from the road.

Dave Harb, a Treasure Island resident, has worked at Pirates Cove for about three years.

He hadn't noticed that the pirate sign was missing on the causeway and said that no tourists had asked about it yet.

"The only one they ask about is the old motel," Harb said, gesturing across Gulf Boulevard at the lot where the Buccaneer Resort Motel once stood.

So what has become of the city's pirates?

The cutout pirate sign along the Treasure Island Causeway was removed by the city staff sometime in mid February.

The decision was made after a fatal car accident occurred at the intersection and residents began questioning whether the sign had played a role in the crash.

"There was some safety concern. We just wanted to make sure the visibility was as good as possible," said Jim Murphy, director of public works.

The sign also enticed some visitors to indulge in dangerous photo ops, Mayor Mary Maloof said.

"People would stop their cars and they would go out into the road to be photographed," Maloof said.

But there may still be hope for pirate lovers of Treasure Island.

The same buccaneer that once topped the motel with sword held high was donated to the city when the building was destroyed in 2005.

Since then Bucky, as the staff calls him, has been stowed away behind the city's public works building, barely seen by the public — save a recent appearance on the beach.

There has been talk of moving Bucky to the Community Center but the larger than life statue needs an appropriate base. A capital improvements project in next year's budget will have to be approved to pay for the installation.

If approved, the landmark could be in place by November.

"It's a beautiful pirate. It's a beautiful symbol of Treasure Island," Commissioner Phil Collins said.

The causeway pirate may be making a comeback, too.

The city has plans to replace the cutout sign somewhere along the north side of the roadway, but they're not sure when, spokesman Jeff Jensen said.

"You've got to have some pirates out here," Jensen said.

Nick Johnson can be reached at nick or 893-8361.

Despite city's logo, Treasure Island is short on swashbucklers 04/29/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 2, 2008 2:23pm]
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