Look Out Below

By John Swartz

This weekend’s Pirate Party has so much going on it’s difficult to say which element is best. Despite all the reenactments of battles on land and at sea, demonstrations by reenactors in the pirate camp and the music, a highlight for many was Saturday afternoon’s Walk the Plank event.

They came to see members of Orillia City Council take the long walk off a short pier and stayed to see others do so too.

Mayor Don McIsaac took a pass this year, but said he’ll be a participant next year. He was there, dressed for the part, but helping harbor master Allan Lafontaine escort the jumpers (Jump! I was pushed) to their fate.

Councillors Fallis, Cipolla and Jeff Czetwerzuk each took the plunge. Councillor David Campbell was lurking in costume, but no one is sure he jumped.

“There was no election this year,” joked Lafontaine about the small field of councillors participating.

Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers

Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers also walked the plank. While all the other Couchiching swimmers did variations of summersaults, he was the only one to do a somewhat graceful swan dive into the drink.

The event is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club. The club is putting money from last year ($15,000) and this toward the cost of the next stage of improvements to the Aqua theatre. The amount raised this year was not available at time of publishing.

The crowd watching the swimming exhibition appeared to be slightly larger than last year, despite difficulty getting to the park because of Centennial Drive reconstruction.

East of the plank spectators

“The waterfront has been pretty quiet this year,” said Lafontaine. “It was nice to see,” so many people.

After decades of having no Labour Day weekend organized events in Orillia, the Pirate Party has become a premiere attraction on the Trent Severn Waterway.

“The people need something for the long weekend. The boaters absolutely love it and the people here in the community get free entertainment,” said Lafontaine. “The boaters are just in their glory. I was reading a couple forums and the waterways were quiet this weekend. I can’t believe how many boaters personally thanked me for doing this because they consider it to be one of the funnest events they do all summer long.”

Sunday’s events include waterborne attack on the Champlain Sailing Club at 11 a.m.

“The Champlain Sailing club are all dressing up as pirates and then they are coming back (to the park) after we attack them to help win the City back (at 1 p.m.),” Lafontaine said.

There are other demonstrations all afternoon Sunday and the Orangeman band is playing at 8 p.m.

Councillor Ralph Cipolla

Jay Fallis

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(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: One of many ‘pirate’ boats participating in the Labour Day Pirate Party at the Port of Orillia.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)

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