Pirate Day was my favourite event of the season by some margin in 2012 and last year. This year, things had changed and I had no idea until shortly before the event took place.
Funding had been substantially cut. Hastings council had got some bee in their bonnet about 'trouble' during the previous two PDs. Who would ever guess pirates might drink a lot and get a bit rowdy...
This year, Pirate Day was organised by the old town and run, apparently, on a very small budget. Not quite sure who paid for the security team - whose presence was unwanted, unnecessary and led to the parade being ruined for many. Emphasis was supposed to be on the family fun day element - not sure how having the place swarming with cops and meat head bouncers was going to facilitate that...
Biggest loss was the lack of a stage - in previous years there had been several. Most idiotic of all was the fact that the day before, at the sparsely attended shanty festival, there was a decent sized stage right there on the Stade where it had been for the previous Pirate Day, complete with speakers, amps etc. So the cost of that clearly wasn't an issue - why on earth they didn't have the stage on the Sunday is beyond me. I personally know bands who would have been more than happy to perform free of charge. People constantly mentioned the lack of music on the streets, and a general lack of decent entertainment compared to previous years.
Maybe we'd become spoilt. Certainly this year was good by the standards of most other events. But it was poor in comparison to 2012 and 2013.
Fortunately, the pirates themselves were brilliant, as per usual. Lots and lots of fantastic outfits. Many had clearly gone to great effort. People still had fun, for sure. But Pirate Day requires a lot of planning and I don't think this one was very well thought through at all - though I understand there will have been restrictions and stipulations because of the obstacles put in the way by the clueless council.
There was supposed to be music and entertainment in the new town by the tunnel - but the police had inexplicably prevented anyone from playing because it might cause a 'distraction to the traffic.' I have rarely heard such preposterous nonsense. I saw someone singing there much later but most people had drifted away long since by then.
The pirate sword fights at Priory Meadow shopping centre were excellent. That was the only decent bit of entertainment I saw away from the old town.
In the absence the usual fare we've come to expect from Pirate Day, I had to pretty much content myself with snapping pirates coming and going. The sheer volume of pictures I took underlines what a high standard there was this time round - these people deserved better.
The big downer was the security team. This is Pirate Day, not bloody West Ham v Millwall. You don't need a lot of heavy handed bouncers running about determined to prove that they were 'doing stuff' by needlessly barracking people for no good reason. But that's exactly what happened, particularly during the parade. I had two different idiots stand right in front of me and then try to push me back when it was obvious I was photographing the parade and had enough wits about me that I wouldn't stand anywhere I was likely to be in the way. In fact the only ones who got in the way were the security people, who were clearly useless at this kind of marshaling. The old town volunteers always do a great job at other events - there was just no need for security and it must have used up a good bit of much needed funds employing them. If they're going to be at future Pirate Days, I certainly won't be there.
Rant over. Positives, aside from the vast army of fabulous pirates, were the brilliant drumming bands. Particular merit must go to the group who did a 45 minute stint near the Blue Dolphin after the parade was over. For me, that was easily the best part of the day and the number of people up and dancing underlined how much music elsewhere was needed. Also excellent were the acrobats, jugglers and other entertainers who marched in the parade and would have been happy to carry on had there been anywhere for them to perform. The rain pretty much held off and it was a very warm day, if mostly grey. The old town marshals showed the security bods how it should be done and were excellent as ever, providing a low key presence. The entertainment, pretty much aimed at the youngsters, on the Stade was also good, as were the dancers in the high street.
The fact that I've uploaded more pictures from this year's Pirate Day than from the 2013 event suggests that I probably am better as snapping portrait-type shots than dancing people ;)
Am very much hoping for a return to form in 2015 for this event, which remains my favourite despite the blip this time round. Am also very much hoping that there will be no security people next time round. Complete waste of money and they were far more likely to have sparked trouble with their heavy handedness than any of the mostly good natured drunks.
Hastings Pirate Day 2014 (545 pics)