Bucs ready to set sail on Fourth | Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s float continues to be a parade favorite

Buccaneer John Kingsbury hands out beads during the 2013 Fourth of July parade in Oak Harbor. The Oak Harbor Yacht Club group owns the popular pirate ship float. - File photo 2013/Whidbey News-Times
Buccaneer John Kingsbury hands out beads during the 2013 Fourth of July parade in Oak Harbor. The Oak Harbor Yacht Club group owns the popular pirate ship float.
— image credit: File photo 2013/Whidbey News-Times

The Fourth of July Parade in Oak Harbor is fast approaching, and residents are already looking forward to the processional and ensuing celebration.

One float in particular is very popularity — the pirate ship float, courtesy of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers formed in 1997 as a way to help the financially failing yacht club, according to the head “Buc,” Bob Mitchell. By 2007, the club was a philanthropic community outreach group.

“We focus on people below the radar of the system,” Mitchell said.

Aside from participating in “virtually every parade,” Mitchell said the group also gives out Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, children’s gifts at Christmas and hosts a Children’s Fishing Derby.

“That is our focus now. Like I say,” Mitchell said, “is reaching the community and being a presence in the Oak Harbor community.”

The pirate ship was acquired by the Buccaneers in about 2005, according to Mitchell.

A member of the group found the float, built for similar purposes, while traveling in the Midwestern United States, according to Mitchell.

“We got it back here and got it fixed up,” he said. “Lots of modifications and finishes and TLC went into it.

“We take a lot of pride in it,” Mitchell said. “and we do get a lot of compliments.”

Aside from coming equipped with Buccaneers in full pirate costumes handing out beads to children on the parade sidelines, the ship comes equipped with six cannons, three on each side, letting out loud bangs of compressed carbon dioxide “about every second light post,” Mitchell said. “So it’s banging away as we’re going down.”

Therese Kingsbury and her husband John joined the yacht club in 2013 “and immediately became Buccaneers,” she said.

“We love to do community outreach and are very active volunteers throughout the town in many different charities,” Kingsbury said.

The Buccaneers are “always hoping to recruit more people that are up for some good, clean pirate fun,” Kingsbury said.

The Buccaneers currently number 14 people, an “all time high,” Mitchell said.

Though Kingsbury loves the fundraising and charitable work, she said that being a pirate edges it out as her favorite part of being a member of the Buccaneers.

“Who would not like dressing up like a pirate and making people smile?” she said.


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