I’ve spent a lot of time in this column extolling the virtues of the mermaid population in Rockaway Beach, and rightfully so. And while I occasionally mention mermen here and there, I do not give any ink to the Pirates of the Peninsula! So, let us talk Pirate for a bit.
The Pirates of Rockaway are a different breed altogether, harkening back to the swashbuckling days of Errol Flynn. Good looking, dashing, noble, the Rockaway Pirates are masters of melodious mischief! They can typically be found near the beach, enjoying the sounds of summer, listening to the sirens of mermaids. They may look dangerous, but in fact are quite honest and hardworking. Many of these modern-day Pirates are actually involved in mentoring kids, even if they do fly the skull and crossbones on the Jolly Roger!
For those who may not remember Errol Flynn pirate movies, perhaps you remember the movie, The Princess Bride? The actor, Cary Elwes, plays the Dread Pirate Roberts: dashing, and extremely good looking and in love with his princess who has been kidnapped by the evil prince! With his friend, Inigo Montoya, they rescue the princess and they live happily ever after! But poor Inigo, after avenging his father, has no purpose. It is then that Cary tells him that he is retiring as a pirate and that Inigo would make a good Dread Pirate Roberts. Ah yes!
More recent pirates include Johnny Depp, dressed as Keith Richards, speaking in circles like Keith Richards, and wishing he could play guitar like Keith Richards in five Caribbean episodes! While Johnny is both dashing and good looking, he falls short on the Errol Flynn nobility scale. But nonetheless always seems to do the right thing either by his own conscience or by being forced by others.
Then there are the pirates from Peter Pan! Every kid wants to be a pirate and sail the seven seas and find treasure and bury it! And to never grow up, these are the dreams of true pirates. Some pirates realize there are some concessions to be made and settle down like our friend the Dread Pirate Roberts after finding his Princess Bride, but a yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, pirate dreams are never truly out of reach! Not that a true pirate would ever become a farmer, but mooring the pirate ship for a while does have its benefits!
I have found the Pirates of Rockaway to be up to the standards set by the ancient poll bearers. They are a fun loving, musical, happy lot, spreading merriment and optimism through acts of kindness, and serendipitous folly. You can catch them in full regalia at parades such as the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in June or Rockaway’s own Poseidon Parade in September. So, if you see one out and about in full pirate costume, tip your cap, because men, we all have a bit of pirate within us, and like Peter Pan, we never truly want to grow up!!