Bob McKie is gearing up for a long couple days this weekend but he can’t wait– after all, he’s been part of Buccaneer Days for over 30 years.
Esquimalt’s annual, family-friendly pirate-themed community celebration charmed McKie when he first came across it in 1967. He had just moved from Woodstock, Ont. while serving the Canadian Armed Forces.
“It’s an Esquimalt celebration, and as far as I’m concerned I’m part of Esquimalt,” he said. “I came out here in the army and never left.”
McKie began volunteering shortly after he arrived because his father-in-law chaired the event. For the past 13 years he’s chaired it himself.
The days are long leading up to Buccaneer Days, with planning starting in January. When the event is on McKie is working from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. along with the other board members and volunteers, but he says it doesn’t feel like a long day at all.
“No, it’s a fun day,” he quipped.
Beginning at the crack of dawn McKie makes sure everything is coordinated for the Lions’ pancake breakfast, and that all the security personnel are fed before things get going.
Next thing, of course, is the “Wakey Wakey” announcement coming from the speakers of the Esquimalt Fire Hall.
“Every so often we get phone calls saying they’re upset, that we’re abusing the fire hall and disturbing the peace,” McKie said. “I say to them, ‘Welcome to Esquimalt, it’s only on this week.’”
After that there’s rides, performances, a parade (“I don’t have time to ride in it anymore,” he says) and of course an all-ages dance to attend.
With so much going on, one might think McKie would be hard-pressed to pick a favourite part, but he was quick to point one out.
“My favourite part is watching the kids with the smiles on their faces, just enjoying their time,” he said.
Everyone is welcome at Buccaneer Days, which will run in Esquimalt from May 10-12.
For more information you can visit esquimaltbuccaneerdays.ca.