Business on FMB looks forward to Pirate Fest

Karl Fortier

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Business on FMB looks forward to Pirate Fest

CREATED Oct. 11, 2013

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - Swashbucklers invading Southwest Florida! Pirate Fest kicked off Friday night on Fort Myers Beach. It's one of the first big festivals since those freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee turned Southwest Florida's coast murky brown. Businesses on Fort Myers Beach are counting on this weekend to put the wind back in their sails.

If you plan on dropping anchor in Fort Myers Beach this weekend, you'll find a lot of costumes, fun and festivity.

"This is the 8th Annual Pirate Fest," says FMB Chamber of Commerce President Bud Nocera. "We do this once a year in October to boost the business to bring more visitors to the beach."

And after a summer in which massive freshwater releases from Lake O brought some stranger, murkier tides to the shores of Fort Myers Beach, local businesses welcome any event that puts a few more pieces of eight in their pockets.

"They did feel the pinch, yes they did," says Chamber Chairwoman Norma Jean Bebey. "However the rain has stopped, the weather is clearing up, and as you can see, today is absolutely beautiful."

Steve DeAngelis of Nervous Nellie's says that the dark waters of the past few months drove visitors away and stole their plunder.

"It has affected business down here, and we're hoping there's some relief and resolve to that issue," he says. "We're hoping that folks will understand that this is a temporary problem, and that when they come back next year, they won't experience the same color in the water."

But with the captain's share of hotel rooms reserved by shiploads of pirates, DeAngelis is thankful that all these buccaneers mean a lot of buckaroos.

"We've found that there are several larger groups of pirates that would normally have gone to Tybee Island, Georgia, but have decided to come to Fort Myers Beach, and we're really going to roll out the red carpet for them."

This weekend's Pirate Fest will feature a sea battle, as well as a Thieve's Market selling all kinds of pirate gear. Organizers promise lots of fun for the kids, as well as live entertainment from 10:00am to 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday.