The organizers of Palmyra’s Pirate Weekend, set to take place Aug. 5 through 6, held their first fundraising event of the year, The Pirate Ball, on March 19.

 

The organizers of Palmyra’s Pirate Weekend, set to take place Aug. 5 through 6, held their first fundraising event of the year on March 19.

The Pirate Ball, a ticketed event hosted in the VFW building on Route 31, was filled with salty revelers aiming to raise money for the self-funded festival in Palmyra.

“Everyone else does a canal town days festival,” co-founder Dean ‘Captain Mojito’ Heckman said. “We tried to do something a little unique. We found out about our canal town days heritage, plus we had a pirate that lived in our community, so we said, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to do something different?’”

But pirates weren’t at the top of the list of ideas — at first.

“It started with Canal Splash weekend,” Irene ‘Princess’ Unterborn said. “Every community along the Erie Canal had to come up with a unique theme for the weekend...we go up to Alex Bay every year for pirate weekend, and we really had a pirate that lived in Palmyra.”

Bill ‘McDeath’ Unterborn, Gary ‘Commodore McDreamy’ Hopkins, and Heckman started working on the pirate theme with a view to making it an event that brought the community together in a fun way, while bringing attention to Palmyra.

“We’re really trying to promote Palmyra,” Heckman said. “Palmyra is a destination. It’s a cool place to live and hang out, and a great place to raise a family.”

The organizers of the weekend use what they call “gorilla marketing campaigns,” keeping their advertising budget down so they can maximize the use of their funds for the weekend. L.L.Bean sponsors their annual public showing of the movie “The Goonies”, and local businesses also support the event. Through fundraising opportunities like the Pirate Ball, the bed race, and Palmyra-Macedon Varsity Swim team’s dunking booth, they are able to conduct the entire weekend on donations alone. The American Legion in Palmyra also lends a hand in garnering financial support.

“It’s just a good way to celebrate Palmyra’s connection to the canal in a really fun way,” said Bill Unterborn, who works on a committee of about a dozen members who meet monthly to organize the weekend. “We love it.”

For more information, visit www.eriecanalpirates.com.