Heroes emerge in this villainous pirates tale

By August 12, 2011

SWORD FIGHT —€” 4-year-old Ryan Cole Barker, left, and Joshua Barner, 7, both from Cameron Park, show off their fencing skills during last year's pirate visit. Village Life file photo by Pat Dollins

The pirates return to El Dorado Hills from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20 to spread their brand of educational mayhem around Village Green Park and help raise funds for the local library.

Like all good pirate stories this one contains mystery, intrigue and a scurrilous villain. Heroes are also essential, and this story has two — a barefoot teen who took a couple punches for the cause and a youngster who donated his piggy bank to ensure pirates came to El Dorado Hills.

The mayhem accompanying the pirates’ visit started a little early this year, despite the best efforts of a newly empowered teen council that’s largely running the event. Major budget cuts hit the county library system, and a new head librarian in El Dorado Hills decided to use the hugely popular pirate event — it attracted 4,800 visitors last year — as a fundraiser to help fill the fiscal void.

“We’re using the proceeds to buy books,” said El Dorado Hills Librarian Carolyn Brooks.

The drama began on the afternoon of July 8 when a thief snatched a donation bucket off the front counter of the library and bolted out the door, nearly bowling over a stroller-pushing mom.

A handful of “library kids” recognized what was going on and gave chase through Serrano neighborhoods. “One mom with her kids in the back of her SUV followed him down Silva Valley Parkway,” said Brooks.

The young man who finally confronted him took a couple hard punches before the suspect fled for good.

The 5-gallon white bucket containing an estimated $500 in donations for the pirate event disappeared along the way. “Library patrons stepped up and we made it all back in two weeks,” said Brooks.

Sheriff investigators believe the theft was well-planned, and the thief, who hasn’t been identified, ditched the bucket shortly after fleeing the library. A thorough search of the surrounding area came up empty.

Security cameras caught the whole thing, but the thief, who witnesses say was a dark-complexioned late teenager, never directly faced the camera.

The story’s “awe moment” came three weeks after the theft, when young Thien-An Nguyen appeared at the library with a candy jar full of coins, mostly silver. “He said he wanted to donate it because ‘some bad kid stole your money,’” said a clearly moved Brooks.

But wait, there’s more … “We thought you couldn’t get any lower than stealing donated money for a kids program from a library,” said Brooks.

But it turns out you can.

The library is home to a sewing group that assembles “pillow case dresses” for girls in third world countries.

“We had a couple hundred pairs of new panties packed up with the dresses,” said Brooks. “Someone stole the little girls’ panties.”

To donate new panties or old pillow cases to “Dress A Girl Around the World,” go to dressagirlaroundtheworld.com.

All that happened before the pirates arrived.

On Aug. 20, the now-recognizable 15th century galleon “HMS Dauntless,” an 80-foot armed merchant ship on wheels, complete with a 45-foot main mast, yard arms, rigging and sails, will once more dock at the library.

Her crew of privateers will provide maritime history lessons while brandishing all sorts of medieval weaponry and making mischief with the maidens.

Every good pirate story needs a female lead. This year the show includes the famous privateer wench Anne Bonney. She’s based on a real character who went to sea dressed as a man, had some well documented “boy problems” and eventually became a privateer, fighting along side her husband.

These days, most kids get their pirate exposure via the well know character Capt. Jack Sparrow, who combines Pepe Le Pew’s good manners with Keith Richards’ swagger and stagger.

Standing in for Johnny Depp on Saturday is Bay Area entertainer Ace Miles as “Captain Jack Spareribs,” a dead ringer for his near-namesake, whose antics include comedy, magic, juggling, more comedy, ventriloquism and, yes, still more comedy, much of it improvised with his audience.

Spareribs will put on two shows in the gazebo. Times have not been confirmed. The Captain is in great demand so get there early.

Tom Riggins returns as the decidedly more serious Capt. Maclaren, as salty a sea dog as every sailed the Seven Seas. He’ll lead tours of the HMS Dauntless all day.

The Village Green, located at the corner of Serrano Parkway and Silva Valley Parkway, will be awash in sword fights, catapult and trebuchet demonstrations, storytelling and pirate squabbling all day. Bring your camera.

Members of the library’s teen council got nearly 100 local businesses to help fund the event.

This year a $1 donation will be requested for basic admission.

A $10 premium donation includes a pirate T-shirt, a raffle ticket for prizes donated by local businesses, a coupon for a kid’s meal deal at Togos and a ticket to Legoland.

Members of the teen council will be selling T-shirts, raffle tickets, drinks, handmade purses, pirate paraphernalia and “lunch on the Dauntless,” which include a cool pirate bandana, an eye patch and a coloring book.

They’ll also have a crafts table set up to embellish your pirate tee.

Nugget Market is feeding all the volunteers and providing the pirate meals — don’t worry mom, no hard tack or bone soup this year.

The Blarney Band is back, and is sure to keep the kilts-a-flappin’.

“It’s going to be awesome,” opined Youth Librarian Erik Berman, who will be in his third week on the job when the pirates arrive. He knows he has some big pirate boots to fill.

He showed them off at the library last week, along with a full pirate costume, including saber and stuffed parrot.

“Kids can get into history, but it has to be packaged right,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Mike Roberts


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