Seafair Pirates in a pickle? A call for Alki Landing assistance

(WSB video of last year’s Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki)
Our timbers were shivered when Shell forwarded us the latest e-mail newsletter from Duke’s Chowder House, saying the Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki (scheduled for July 10) was in jeopardy – at risk of cancellation, or of costing the pirates a pretty penny from their own coffers – because of a shortage of sponsors. Duke’s even set up an online donation link. We have just checked with the Pirates themselves – and while they say no, the landing event is NOT in danger of cancellation, they do need $ help – stand by for the rest of the briny tale as fast as we can type it.

ADDED 1:35 PM: Just got off the phone with Mark Jensen, to whom we’ll refer with his Seafair Pirates nickname, “Keelhaul.” He says the event had “two nice sponsors arranged and contracted” – and within the span of three days, they both canceled. The price tag for the Pirates Landing is about $20,000 – including thousands just for the permits – which may sound like a lot, but isn’t really, for an event drawing that many people. If they don’t get sponsorship money, “Keelhaul” says, the Pirates’ constitution requires the cost be split among them – that means up to $500 apiece for this, and anyone who can’t pay it can’t be a Pirate any more – that’s just the way their rules work. (The Pirates are an independent organization, not bankrolled by Seafair itself, and they make 240 appearances a year, often to assist charity fundraisers.) “We don’t want to lose any pirates over this,” he says – and canceling this Alki Landing is NOT an option: A central part of the event will be granting the wish of a 13-year-old Ellensburg boy, through Make-A-Wish Foundation. As the culmination of what Keelhaul explains is a three-part wish, young Joseph Johnson will become Captain Kidd, the morning of the landing – which means he’s in charge. So how did Duke get involved with all this? They were talking to him about a sponsorship, and while that didn’t work for this year, he came up with the idea of putting out a call to his massive mailing list, asking for people to chip in. So if you want to keep one (or more) Seafair Pirates from walking the plank, here’s how to help.

49 Replies to "Seafair Pirates in a pickle? A call for Alki Landing assistance"

  • onceachef June 23, 2010 (2:39 pm)

    Sorry…there are far too many other (worthwhile) charities and non-profits to donate to….$20,000 for a pirate show? (GMAB!)Don’t they think that kind of money could be spent elsewhere and be more beneficial (food banks, homeless, etc…). Sounds a bit selfish to me…me thinks you’ll need to come up with a clever plan this time, laddies.

  • Morgan June 23, 2010 (3:42 pm)

    I think Duke’s would hit it bigger if there were pictures of each of the guys. There was one pirate a number of years ago that I saw that had a beautiful black hat with a huge dark green feather. The outfit was to die for!! I would certainly put my money on him!! Morgan, Cutthroat Island, WA

  • inthetimeof$ June 23, 2010 (4:45 pm)

    If they truly are pirates, maybe they can start boarding ships in Puget Sound and holding them for ransom.

  • Crystal June 23, 2010 (4:57 pm)

    The seafair pirates do a LOT of shows and a lot of charity work for our community, they are a HUGE part of the pacific norhtwest, i think its time we as a community give back some of what they have given to us over the years. I’m donating to keep my pirates!!!!

  • DyM June 23, 2010 (5:02 pm)

    onceachef your an idiot, the pirates help out on tons of charities every year, and the pirates landing has been in Seattle sense the early 50’s and is a big part of Seattle and what Seattle is about, i have taken all five of my kids down there to the landing every year for the past 30 years of raising all of them. if we don’t have a pirates landing Seattle will not be the same. and for the pirates to have to pay this out of there pockets isn’t fair or right sense they donate their time to do the charity work they do for Seattle, and i wont hide my identity behind a screen name.

    Jay Dailey

  • Mike June 23, 2010 (5:53 pm)

    Make ’em all walk the plank. They’re an expensive nuisance.

  • J McReynolds June 23, 2010 (6:25 pm)

    I have brought my kids from Olympia to the Alki pirates landing every year for the last 11 years. I would hate to have to tell them the pirates aren’t landing this year because the local businesses (who get more business during this popular event) can’t fork out a few extra bucks to help this COMMUNITY event proceed. It’s for the community.

  • guinivere June 23, 2010 (6:30 pm)

    I don’t really understand the whole Seafair Pirate thing. It surely doesn’t boost the reputation of the Emerald City as green city. It is expensive during a time when so many people are just trying to stay in their homes. Blue Angles and hydroplanes noise and fume pollution, silly parades with beauty queens, obnoxious pirates, lots drunk people.

    I am not aware of anything prosocial they do for our city. I’m with once a chef… let’s save the money for a better, greener cause.

  • spanky_mouse June 23, 2010 (6:31 pm)

    Any one that lives in Seattle knows that the Pirates are doing what they do for charity. They are a huge part of Children Hospital, Make A Wish, and they also have helped raise money for Heroes For Heroes a fund for the children of fallen Deputy Kent Mundell, and this is what I can think of off the top of my head. For someone to say there are many other charities and non-profits that one could donate to that would be more beneficial is really someone speaking with out all the facts and should be ashamed of themselves. These people are not only part of the Seattle culture but they give back to so many in our city that need the help. I am not saying that food banks are not a worthy cause, they are. However, lets us give credit where credit is due. I’m donating to keep my pirates!!!!

  • guinivere June 23, 2010 (6:34 pm)

    I don’t really understand the whole Seafair Pirate thing. It surely doesn’t boost the reputation of the Emerald City as green city. It is expensive during a time when so many people are just trying to stay in their homes. Blue Angles and hydroplanes noise and fume pollution, silly parades with beauty queens, obnoxious pirates, lots of drunk people on lake washington.

    why not have more fairs like the solstice parade? low impact, community driven, not as much trash, more art.

  • onceachef June 23, 2010 (6:51 pm)

    Thanks for calling me an “idiot” Jay…I realize there are peripheral “benefits” to what they do…but maybe not worth the $20k needed for this…I propose that someone other than me is an “idiot”? You go ahead and contribute the money necessary for a landing, eh?

  • Intheknow June 23, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    Before giving the Pirates any money, people might want to check with the Charities Div. of the Sec. of States Office – the Pirates are NOT registered as a non-profit as they claim and are not in compliance per state law. This applies to ALL the names they do business under.

    • WSB June 23, 2010 (8:03 pm)

      ITK, two things:
      -1. this contribution drive specifically is not going directly to the Pirates – that’s why Duke’s is collecting it – Mark Jensen said they do not collect money directly for this event, it has to go directly to the event. So Duke’s would be paying out to the event whatever comes in, as I understand it following our conversation.
      -2. They do have information on their website regarding one particular exempt status including a scan of some paperwork.
      The state site says “not registered” in one spot but goes on to talk about exempt status

  • Petunia June 23, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    Let Fremont have their Solstice parade…as many have said the pirates are part of Seattle history…too many newcomers are making Seattle beige…not green

  • Intheknow June 23, 2010 (8:03 pm)

    spanky_mouse … I’d say you are the one speaking without knowing ALL the facts. As a business owner I was contacted by telephone to make a donation to the Pirates.
    Knowing about the work the Pirates do, I asked if I was speaking with a “real Pirate.” The guy told me “yes”. When I asked how much of the donations go to actually help, he told me, “95%” and then assured me they were a 501(c)3 non-profit. I told the guy to give me the telephone number where I could call back after checking with the Sec. of State Office, which he gave me.
    To make a long story short, when I called the S.S.O. Charities Div. I was told 1) actual Pirates do NOT make donation calls as far as the office knew 2.) they are NOT registered and have been “out of compliance for the last two (2) years” 3.) that the 95% figure I was given was in fact false 4.) the Wa. St. A. G. is looking into the situation.
    I’m only pointing this out because as some have said here, with money tight right now I want to make sure my donation goes to REALLY help.

  • Intheknow June 23, 2010 (8:10 pm)

    I am only passing on what I was told by the S.S.O. when I called. Everyone can make up their own minds.

    • WSB June 23, 2010 (8:20 pm)

      Absolutely. But since comments are generally for opinion, if someone makes an allegation which seems either easily verifiable or debunkable, we check it out, as best we can.

  • Intheknow June 23, 2010 (8:33 pm)

    Just sent you my correct email address…I had left part of it out – in case you need to contact me re: my comments. Sry for the mix-up.

  • Newnative June 23, 2010 (8:40 pm)

    ITk, Guinevere, & Onceachef, to Davy Jones Locker wit ya!! Aargh!

  • onceachef June 23, 2010 (8:41 pm)

    You go ahead spanky mouse…donate where you think it will do the most good…unfortunately, the pirates are not it. By the way, I’m not “ashamed of myself”…I’m speaking from a point of knowledge and from my heart…pirates are fun but not worth $20K for one event….think about it.

  • Admiral Janeway June 23, 2010 (8:42 pm)

    I was just wondering about the Pirate Landing while out on my morning walk. Sponsor banners are usually up on the light poles along the beach around this time.

    • WSB June 23, 2010 (8:45 pm)

      AJ – I had wondered that too – now it makes sense – TR

  • Intheknow June 23, 2010 (9:05 pm)

    WSB…if the following is true why then are the Pirates calling business people asking for help with the Landing, selling space on t-shirts with a business owners logo, etc.?


    this contribution drive specifically is not going directly to the Pirates – that’s why Duke’s is collecting it – Mark Jensen said they do not collect money directly for this event, it has to go directly to the event. So Duke’s would be paying out to the event whatever comes in, as I understand it following our conversation

  • stefan June 23, 2010 (9:18 pm)

    The Seafair Pirates are about the most giving children’s charity group out there. They do so many events and bring so many smiles. You only think they do parades. So wrong! At Christmas I have seen a warehouse full of toys collected and then handed out to those in need. They just helped out with the Special Olympics. The children that suffered from Chernobal, in Russia, have had their testing done here in Seattle always accompanied by the Pirates to ease their fears. I could go on and on. Seattle is lucky to have these men donate so much of their personal time. If they need funding then hopefully a sponser can be found. Why bad mouth the effort.. Didn’t anyone teach you if you don’t know what you are talking about to shut up and and butt out…

  • Keelhaul June 24, 2010 (7:55 am)

    I will try to address as many of the uneducated comments as I can.
    1st onceachef the Pirates donated in goods an services in excess of $300,000.00 last year. I did not see you anywhere. If you don’t want to donate or support don’t but please educate yourself.
    The landing is not intended to be a charity venture. It is also a huge part of Seattle’s history. For and advertiser and sponsor that $20,000.00 dollar investment returned over $100,000 in advertising exposure.
    BTW we were voted one of the top 5 local charities in western Washington 2 years in a row.

  • Keelhaul June 24, 2010 (8:28 am)

    to in the know.
    The pirates are not calling or asking for help with the landing.
    Registration with the secretary of state is for fundraising. Advertising on the back of shirts that are given away for free is not fundraising.
    The Pirates recently received a 501 (c) 3 certification and registration under the charitable solicitations act is not required if you raised under $25,000.00 which has not been done yet for the Holiday Treasure Chest since the new tax status. The registration for the Seafair Pirates fund has indeed expired as we will not be raising funds under that Non profit. A supplemental report for the old registration is due and has been completed.

    Setting that aside we are not raising this money nor are we soliciting any money and since you are in the know you should know derogatory incorrect and inflammatory remarks are libelous. Your in the fundraising business you should know this.
    I would like to invite you and onceachef to come down and help us grant the wish of a lifetime to a child with a life threatening illness during the landing. I will make sure you have a front row seat. Then tell me what the dollar value is. Or perhaps you 2 can come down and show me how to do this event cheaper. Think about this. What if you are wrong ?? I personally delivered 13,000 lbs of meat at Christmas to every shelter and homeless shelter and soup kitchen that would take it in Seattle. Think about it how low does one have to be to say this is worth it or that is worth it when they really haver not taken the time to find out the truth. I have the letters on file would you like to see them ? The hand has been extended.Your next action, not words tells us the type of person you are.

  • celeste17 June 24, 2010 (9:05 am)

    Hi Keelhaul, Thank You to you and your fellow pirates for all that you do for the kids in Seattle. I wish I had some extra money that I could donate at this time. Will you keep us updated on how the fundraising?

    Have you thought of auctioning off a “date with a pirate”? LOL Like the bachelor auctions?

  • nearalki June 24, 2010 (9:19 am)

    It’s amazing to me that people like onceachef and guinivere downright demand the YOU should only donate YOUR MONEY to “causes” that THEY feel are worthy!! “Let’s save the money for a better, greener cause” Children Hospital and Make A Wish Foundation…OUTRAGEOUS!

  • Intheknow June 24, 2010 (10:04 am)

    Mr. Keelhaul:
    I only posted my comments after having checked with the Sec. of State, Charities Div. regarding giving a donation to the Seafair Pirates. My comments were based on the telephone conversation I had with that office AFTER receiving a telephone call from your group asking for a donation.
    If the information I was given is incorrect, please take that up with the Charities Div. of the Sec. of State. so no one else is given incorrect information. As for implying legal action re: my comments, I have been in business in Seattle for a number of years (BTW, not in the fundraising business as you state) and am not intimidated easily. My comments were in no way false or, misleading.
    As I stated in one of the comments I posted, I was only passing along information I was given – everyone can make his/her own decision. With regard to your comment, “your next action not words tell us the type of person you are”, it would seem your energies would be better used in making friends in the community instead of making misguided judgements and vailed accusations. I have no need to prove what I do regarding helping my community through donations, etc. Those that I CHOOSE to help know they can call AND count on me. In light of that, thanks but no thanks to your “invitation.”

  • Jeff June 24, 2010 (10:10 am)

    Wow. Surprised by the negative comments. The SeaFair Pirates are a long standing tradition, they do lots of charity appearances and hundreds(thousands?)of families make an annual tradition of the landing. If you don’t want to make a donation, fine but what’s with all the negativity? What’s so all fired threatening about helping these guys out?

    I made my donation as soon as I got the email.

    • WSB June 24, 2010 (10:32 am)

      We are donating as well, I will note here, as we did with the Lake Union fireworks. As a business, like so many other West Seattle businesses, we support community events (so far in 2010, co-sponsoring among other events the West Seattle Food Bank Instruments of Change banquet, the Nature Consortium brunch event, Morgan Junction Community Festival, West Seattle Summer Fest, West Seattle Garden Tour, West Seattle 5K, Summer Concerts at Hiawatha, West Seattle Outdoor Movies, West Seattle Junction Car Show) – the big title sponsorships for something like this are out of our league but perhaps, as did OneReel for the fireworks, collecting smaller community-sponsorship amounts is the more sustainable way to go – TR

  • onceachef June 24, 2010 (11:12 am)

    Allow me to clarify a few things…”nearalki”, I never “demanded” anything…I expressed my opinion that the landing was not worth the $20K investment…I responded a couple of times that you (or anyone) can do what you want to do with your money – but, maybe I can put it into some slightly more realistic terms – $20K is:

    > a down payment on a house
    > a college education or a start to a scholarship fund
    > enough to feed 4-5 thousand children (at least)
    > a new car
    > a hefty donation to any charity
    > etc…..

    If the entire $20k went directly to the Make a Wish Foundation they could probably fulfill numerous wishes, not just the one – and I want to clarify that I want the boy to have his wish – but he can “lead them” without all of the hoopla.
    Honestly, I am not against the Pirates, so stop trying to divert attention and turn me into some kind of villain…they obviously have contributed their time and efforts to many charity events…I’m against spending $20,000 dollars (“much of which goes to permits” as written by WSB) on this one event.

  • nearalki June 24, 2010 (11:39 am)

    Why onceachef would you be against The Pirates using their own funds to pay the cost of The Landing? The Pirates will either raise the needed funds or they’ll pay for it out of their own pockets. You really make my point onceachef: don’t spend $20k on the landing spend it on the above list I’ve created. BTW…you have misquoted the WSB.

  • spanky_mouse June 24, 2010 (11:52 am)

    I cant believe the disrespect that I am reading here about the Pirates. These are good men that have committed personal time and money to become upstanding members of our community that give back in so many ways. The acts of the Pirates are giving and selfless, do any of you know what it takes to become a Pirate? Would the group that have posted negative comments, be more considerate of this organization if they all wore suits?
    I think this event isn’t just about making a wish come true for a sick child, its more than that, it’s about coming together as a community. Seafair in general is a summer event that I would say the majority of Seattleites look forward to every year. The Pirates landing is something that I have experienced and enjoyed for many years. Some people my not get the camaraderie that is very much part of the Seafair celebration, and the Pirates are an essential part of Seafair. I ask to all of the people that are not in support of this event, if they have ever been part of a Seafair event or have specifically ever experienced Pirates Landing. If you haven’t maybe this year on July 10th you can participate and maybe understand why people are so passionate about supporting these men.

  • T June 24, 2010 (12:08 pm)

    I have lived in WS most of my life and have been going to the Pirate’s landing since I can remember. Now I take my kids. I have friends that are Seafair Pirates and Seafair clowns. These guys donate incredible amounts of their time at appearances all year long. Bottom line is this event will go on even if the Pirates have to cough up the money themselves, but why should they have to pay out of their pocket to donate their time to entertain us? Alki is jam packed with people every year for the landing. If you are one of those people on the beach and you are fortunate enough to have a few extra dollars in your entertainment budget I think of it as “buying a ticket” to the event through Duke’s website. If your budget is tight, as is the case for many, enjoy the event as it is meant to be–a free community event. If it is not your thing enjoy your day elsewhere. Everyone can make their own choice with out the negativity.

  • onceachef June 24, 2010 (12:17 pm)

    nearalki -Okay, here’s the quote verbatim – “The price tag for the Pirates Landing is about $20,000 – including thousands just for the permits –”.
    Here’s my last post on this subject…I stated the pirates are “not bad people”…I know that. I (personally) think that spending this kind of money on this one event is not a good use of “donations”…if you, or anyone else thinks it is, go ahead and make the donation…I have no “agenda” other than stating how I feel about it – let’s “agree to disagree”. Done!

  • Keelhaul June 24, 2010 (4:57 pm)

    Thank you all for your comments. Both the positive and the negative. Thank you WSB for all that you do you know we appreciate you. I would like to end with come take a look the Pirates are more than just guys dressing up like Pirates.
    I would challenge you to all get involved whatever your passion and help us embody our Charities mission.
    “Individually we all can make a difference. Together we can make an impact.”

  • Near Alki June 24, 2010 (8:18 pm)

    Aye, it be time to storm the beach at Alki…!!!

  • Nic June 24, 2010 (8:25 pm)

    I was born in West Seattle and have lived here all of my 40 years and could not imagine a summer without the Pirates. My kids would also be heart-broken as would numerous charities and businesses that benefit financially from the crowds they draw at each and every event. Will definitely donate…and thank you to Keelhaul for taking the time to read and post, please know that you and the rest of your crew are appreciated by the vast majority of West Seattleites and many who travel a long way just to see you!

  • Joanna June 25, 2010 (6:18 am)

    How sad!

    I know times are tough, and everyone wants to be ‘green’, but isn’t having cultural identity and continuity important too?
    My family has been in Seattle for generations, but I left in 2003 for a new hometown that reminds me of the Seattle I grew up in. Old Seattle died years ago, and it is hard to see new comers and young folk who don’t ‘get’ the history of this town bashing and dissing some of the things that brought us old timers together over the years. Seattle wasn’t always about green, or technology, or coffee….Seattle came of age as a working class town, with Boeing and fishing and logging and as a jump off point for the Alaska gold rush. We liked our corny old celebrations, Ivar and the wild Rainiers and the Kingdome and the noisy wasteful hydroplanes & Blue Angels.

    Now that I have an outsider’s perspective on my formerly-beloved homecity, I can see it really is turning beige. Another generic city.

  • mickey mouse June 25, 2010 (9:15 am)

    Once again, all the “green” folks and newcomers to Seattle want to pull the plug on another wonderful, fun, historical Seattle event. This city is becomming a boring, beige place. Keep the PIRATE’s and keep some of Seattle history. I have lived here all my life and it is very sad to see the Pirate’s slammed in these blogs.

  • CMT June 25, 2010 (10:48 am)

    As a lifelong Seattle resident, I agree with you mickey mouse!

  • Dan Myers June 25, 2010 (11:18 am)

    As a Seafair Clown I can confirm that the Pirates do provide a ton of value not only during Seafair, but all year long.

    The Make-A-Wish foundation element is actually something special if you think about it. A few dollars to help out a kid in need, and provide joy to thousands of others isn’t so bad, is it?

  • GHresident June 25, 2010 (12:10 pm)

    Mythical pirates are fun, but the Seafair Pirates combine the most annoying aspects of frat boys and clowns. If there was a fund that would support the charities they’re part of with the provision that they NOT pretend to be pirates in public, I would donate to it.

  • Bobber the Clown June 25, 2010 (1:39 pm)

    To all of you who continue to question the $20,000, why is that number so important to you? You’re obviously not paying any of it. But to put it in perspective, what is the cost to put on a Mariners baseball game, a Seattle Symphony concert, a Seattle ballet, a 5th Avenue musical, a rock concert? Each of these are entertainment events that people pay to see and their entry fee covers the cost. Why do you belittle people who want to donate to cover the cost of the Pirates Landing so that all the children and adults that appreciate their entertainment, can experience them again this year? As a Seafair Clown and good friend to many of the pirates, I know what this event means to not only those attending, but to each of the pirates. To see joy and happiness in someone’s eyes because of what you are doing, is all the reward they are asking for. The pirates ask nothing more for their long day of work. For those of you who choose to donate, I applaud you. For those that don’t, please don’t rain on others parade. Just quietly donate to the cause of your choice.

  • Keelhaul June 25, 2010 (8:28 pm)

    YOU HAVE MADE NASTY AND MISLEADING COMMENTS EVERYWHERE THIS STORY HAS BEEN TOLD. The Pirates encourage all people when making a charitable donation to check with their State reporting agency in Washington it is the Secretary of States office. The landing is not a Charity event nor is registration required on this one time plea from a 3rd Party Regardless The Seafair Pirates enjoy 2 different registrations with the State of Washington the Seafair Pirates fund Registration # 4226 And our Holiday Program #28407 Check it out for yourself. Our numbers are impressive. HOW LOW DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO TRY TO CAUSE HARM TO A CHARITY.

  • Bonnie C June 25, 2010 (11:57 pm)

    To “In The Know”. I think it’s time to change your screen name. If you were in the “Know” you would have know EXACTLY what charity name to research when you were checking with the state. Also, you would “Know” the good these guys do in our community and MANY other communities around “THE WORLD”. You would “Know” the amount of families the Seafair Pirates touch each year with food, clothing, and gifts under the tree. You would “Know” the joy these guys bring to young disabled adults when they help out with their Special Olympics or are their dates for their Senior Prom. You would “Know” the numerous times they help raise money for OTHER charities. You would “Know” the hours and hours they spend visiting kids in the hospital or seniors in senior centers. You would know that where there’s a need, they will HELP. All of this done on their own time at their own expense.
    So, when the Seafair Pirates say they need a helping hand paying for the Landing, your damn right I’m gona help, so all those people out there who can’t afford to go out and have a good time can come by Alki on July 10th and enjoy a good time on the beach with live music, vendors and the SEAFAIR PIRATES FREE!!

  • Mikeboat June 27, 2010 (11:44 am)

    Keelhaul and the rest of the Pirate crew…

    See you at the usual spot and the usual time!


  • S George July 6, 2010 (5:36 pm)

    “….silly parades with beauty queens, obnoxious pirates, lots of drunk people….”

    Well, I was going to pass, but that just reminded me of how great it is. I’M IN!

Sorry, comment time is over.