SWASHBUCKLING seadogs can abandon ship and take to the skies this Pirate Day.
As the town gears up for its third annual meeting of cutlass-wielding treasure hunters, organisers have added helicopter rides to the plethora of pirate-related activities already available.
The rides, which leave from the East Hill, will give the perfect view of the centrepiece of this year’s Pirate Day, which takes place on Friday, August 5.
Earlier this month, organiser “Jolly” Roger Crouch, 60, told the Observer he was hoping for a world first - a vast skull and crossbones, formed from pirates mustered on the beach at the site of Hastings Bonfire. More pirates will also spell out ‘Hastings’ underneath the design.
“It has to say Hastings,” said Roger, “otherwise people might think they were in Penzance.”
The Cornish town stole the world record of Most Pirates in One Place from Hastings in June, but Roger is confident the town will win it back in 2012, when Pirate Day will separate from Hastings Old Town Carnival Week and take place over a weekend.
This year, Captain Crouch is keen for the town to get behind his skull and crossbones scheme. To get involved, join him on the beach at 12.30pm.
He said: “There will be a wonderful atmosphere, for all the family, and that’s what Pirate Day is about.
“It just creates a lovely spirit in the town - young and old can dress as pirates and be equal. Without pirates, it wouldn’t be Pirate Day, so grab a cutlass, join in and celebrate our town.”
Pirate Day lookalikes Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Barbosa return, as well as sword fighting displays for children, and sea shanties at The Stag, All Saints Street, from 8pm.
The Electric Palace Cinema, High Street, screens seafaring classic The Black Pirate at 8pm, and a twilight smugglers walk meets at the Shipwreck Museum at 7.30pm.
So far, more than 5,000 people have registered interest on the Hastings Pirate Day Facebook page.
“This year is going to be huge,” said Roger. “Hastings is a great town to live in, and Pirate Day celebrates that.”
Visit www.1066.net/carni val or www.oldtowncarnival week.co.uk for information. Check next week’s Observer for more details.