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  • Marie McKinsey

Life at Alki Beach: Pirates and Pole Vaulters - Aaaargh!!

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Apparently, there won't be Seafair Pirate landing at Alki Beach this summer because of lingering issues from the pandemic. This photo essay, from 10 years ago, is a reminder of the fun we've had in the past and hope to enjoy in the future.

Originally published 7/24/2011

The Seafair Pirates landed at Alki Beach recently, marking the beginning of Seattle's month-long Seafair celebration. While pirate invasions are not considered a good thing in other parts of the world, here it is an eagerly awaited event, for children especially.

Safair Pirates landing on Alki Beach

'Twas a beautiful summer day at Alki Beach, temperature in the low 70s, ideal pirate invasion weather!

Seafair Pirate hat

Folks around here dress up for this event in traditional Northwest pirate garb. This man sports a pirate hat and, of course, a fleece vest.

Littlest Safair Pirate fan

Here one of the littlest pirate fans gets a boost from Dad to watch for the pirate ship.

Pole vaulter at Alki Beach

Even though it seemed to take a long time for the ship to get here, there was plenty to do in the meantime - like watch the pole vaulting competition, which was going on at the same time. (I'm not sure why these two events play together at the same time each year.)

Seattle police boats

Seattle is a big time, maritime city and this is a perfect Seafair event to show that off. Here among the sailboats is a police boat that just "did a donut" in front of the crowd. (See the circular wake?)

Seattle fire boat demonstration

In the background, there's a fire boat demonstration.

Seafair Pirate boat

Then, at last! The pirate boat approaches, in a cloud of smoke from canon fire (or something like it).

Seafair Pirates land at Alki Beach

Within minutes, the boat reaches shore, lowering its ramp amid a flurry of fireworks. The crowd moves aside as the Seafair Pirates storm the shore!


Seafair Pirate invasion

The invaders run to the top of the hill overlooking the shore, with the crowd at their heels.

Captain Kidd of the Seafair Pirates

Captain Kidd, in the red coat, and his crew stand at the top of the hill, surveying the crowd below. The Seattle Seafair Pirates, for all their costume and theater, are a benevolent bunch. They toss candy and trinkets to the children below. It's all great fun and something for families to look forward to every summer.

All over the Alki neighborhood you see pirate flags from this event, black with white skull and crossbones, attached to fences and stuck in flowerpots, where they will stay through wind and rain and snow, until next year's pirate landing -- and new flags can be found.

For more information on the Seafair Pirates, visit their website. There you'll find out about upcoming "raids" at various locations in Seattle throughout the Seafair season. You'll also find out how you, too, can become a pirate. Wouldn't that be fun? Aarrgh!


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