TAMPA — They arrived in dribs and drabs, riding up an escalator at the Tampa Convention Center, then they stood around for half an hour in the dank, their occasional shouts of “Where is she?” becoming more plaintive than fearsome.
Plenty of pirate hands were stuck deep into festooned pockets. Buccaneer feet stamped less with ferocity than in an apparent attempt to keep the blood flowing.
Normally, the pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe blast faux cannons on a motorized replica of their famous ship as they descend on downtown Tampa a few days before Gasparilla each year. Their stated goal: To obtain the key to Florida’s third-largest city.
This year, the rain and cold moved the event to outside the Convention Center’s second level. And the pirates, perhaps fearing more time in the cold, were in a more diplomatic mood as they maneuvered to get the key out of the hands of a reluctant Mayor Jane Castor, who shortly after she arrived from the warm depths of the Convention Center dismissed them as “scalawags.”
“You guys should have learned your lesson by now. You don’t know what hard work is,” Castor said.
So one, “Lord Chamberlain,” unrolled a scroll and began to flatter the mayor, praising her “wise and visionary leadership” and extolling that “Champa Bay is clearly well led.”
“We come in peace and not in war,” Chamberlain said, adding that they were there to ask her for “concessions.”
“Well, you’re right. We are Champa Bay!,” replied Castor to roars and “arrghs” aplenty. “I’m all about making everybody happy.”
But, in the end, negotiations failed. The pirate crew vowed to invade Saturday.
“Methinks I might have to call Tom Brady,” Castor said.
“Good luck with that,” countered a pirate.