Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt had fair warning of the attack, but he stayed to protect his city from the band of rowdy — but charitable — ruffians.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. July 1, Bartelt found himself kidnapped from his city hall office and shackled aboard the Skullywag. He was at the mercy of the Anna Maria Island Privateers, who demanded ransom from the citizens gathered outside city hall.
The Privateers’ mission was to add to their treasure chest in their 40th anniversary year — the booty to be used for college scholarships and children’s events, such as an end-of-school party in Bayfront Park and a Christmas party with Santa at Coquina Beach.
Echoing demands made in Anna Maria at the start of 2011, the Privateers insisted on cash, but also a key to the city of Bradenton Beach and a proclamation giving them free reign in 2011.
The advance warning to Bartelt and other city officials came June 16 during a commission meeting from Tim “Hammer” Thompson, who struck fear and awe when he threatened that the Skullywag would arrive with “cannons and guns a blasting.”
“Ye be fair warned of the shenanigans about to happen,” Thompson said.
A press release contained a similar warning, along with the unpirate-like note, “The Anna Maria Island Privateers is a 501c3 nonprofit organization involved in a variety of activities that benefit the community as a whole, in addition to many events that are focused on local youth.”
The invasion took place as promised, with the Privateers navigating the Skullywag around the corner at Gulf Drive and Second Street and into the crowded city hall parking lot.
There was a blast from the canon and then, with swords drawn, the Privateers rushed into city hall, past a group of gawkers in the Katie Pierola Commission Chambers and into the mayor’s office, where the city leader sat unprotected.
The gang escorted Bartelt to the ship, chained him and demanded the ransom.
Privateers circulated through the crowd, collecting coins and bills in their three-cornered hats.
From Commissioner Janie Robertson, who serves as vice mayor, the Privateers collected a gold key to the city and the proclamation, which Bartelt read after his release.
After collecting their cash, proclamation and key and ransacking the commission chambers, the Privateers sailed north on Gulf Drive.
“This city is ours,” Thompson said.
But the pirates warned of another coming Island invasion: Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger has until Labor Day weekend to decide whether to stand or run.