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Privateer ransom paid, Holmes Beach mayor released

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Roger “Hoodat” Murphree, president of the Anna Maria Island Privateers for most of the 40th anniversary year, enters Holmes Beach City Hall Dec. 30, seeking to kidnap and ransom the mayor.

Anna Maria Island Privateers capture Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger at city hall Dec. 30, despite the mayor’s best efforts to hide in a closet near the staff break room. Bohnenberger was chained to the mast of the Skullywag and lashed by the Privateers, who then demanded a ransom to release him, including a key to the city and rights to plunder the city. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenburger is dragged at gunpoint from his hiding place in a closet at city hall by Anna Maria Island Privateers in a takeover of the city Dec. 30. City staff put on a failed counter attack, The mayor was led to the Skullywag, shackled to the mast and held for ransom.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers celebrate their rule Dec. 30 over the city of Holmes Beach, having taken the key to city and a proclamation declaring their rights to pillage for a year from Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, center.

When the Anna Maria Island Privateers crew invaded Holmes Beach City Hall at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger was nowhere to be found — at least for a few long minutes.

Privateers searched city hall, starting at the mayor’s office, where a ruse had been initiated. Code enforcement officer David Forbes was waiting at the mayor’s desk, and he put up a valiant fight, but was outnumbered. Several members of the public works department staff joined Forbes in a counter attack, to no avail.

The Privateers continued their search for the mayor, including behind the dais, in staff offices, the conference room, the break room, and both rest rooms. They searched and searched, but a second check in the break room revealed the mayor was hiding behind a closet door.

Capture! Bohnenberger was led kicking and screaming outdoors to the Privateers ship, Skullywag, where he was taken aboard and tied to the ship’s main mast and flogged.

Privateer Tim “Hammer” Thompson announced the crew’s 40th anniversary demands for the city to pay a hefty ransom for the mayor’s release, including a key to the city and a writ from allowing the Privateers to pillage and plunder Holmes Beach for all of 2012.

Privateer Roger “Hoodat” Murphree passed a hat among the crowd of citizens, staff and officials, and announced it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Islander newspaper offered a bounty of champagne, but still the Privateers demanded more.

After a lengthy debate among the audience — some suggested they leave Bohnenberger where he was — a suitable ransom was paid to the Privateers. Holmes Beach City Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens then read a proclamation signed by city commissioners and the mayor that gave the Privateers the key to the city and the right to plunder.

Following the mayor’s release, the champagne flowed and Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce board of directors chair Karen LaPensee and other board members presented the Privateers with a plaque commending them for all their good deeds.

The capture of the mayor and ransom was all in good fun, and a good way for the Privateers to raise money for their annual goal of scholarships for deserving Island students headed to college.

The Privateers celebrated their 40th anniversary throughout 2011 and “Hammer” Thompson was the chair of the anniversary committee.

Following Bohnenberger’s release, apparently unharmed despite the lashing, Thompson received a plaque and a big round of applause from the Privateers and the audience for his anniversary celebration efforts.

When all the ceremonies, plaques, toasts and official proclamations were completed, food donated by a number of Holmes Beach businesses were served along with the champagne and Privateer grog.

In the past 12 months, the Privateers have held more than 40 events on Anna Maria Island that contributed to the scholarship fund and the anniversary celebration.

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