Pirates invade River Center

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WINDSOR – An “invasion” occurred here Saturday morning.

Pirates took over the Roanoke-Cashie River Center and held the facility for nearly three hours.

At approximately 10 a.m., pirates representing the Moody Crewe arrived via the Cashie River and went on land to set up shop at the Roanoke-Cashie River Center. During the “invasion,” they trained youngsters in the ways of pirating, gave historical information and provided demonstrations.

The Moody Crewe are pirates for hire that are based in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. The men and women of the crew represent the “Golden Age of Piracy” which was from 1680 to 1730.

Their namesake is Christopher Moody, who began his career as a pirate in 1714 off the coast of Virginia and was executed along with the crew of Bartholomew Roberts in Africa in 1722.

The group spent their weekend in Windsor where they entertained and educated children and adults thanks to a program sponsored by the Roanoke-Cashie River Center. The event was the showcase for “Pirate Day” at the center.

Phil Patrick, the Program Specialist for the Center, said he was pleased with the experience, especially since there were a number of competing events going on at the same time.

The event attracted more than a dozen children and a crown of approximately 100 to the Roanoke-Cashie River Center.

Al Chewning, who spoke on behalf of the Moody Crewe, said the group enjoyed their time at the Center and working with both youngsters and adults.

“It was wonderful,” he said. “The staff of the River Center was very gracious. Everyone seemed excited. They even brought us in on their pontoon boat.”

Chewning said the experience was great for children, who he said have always had a fondness for pirates.

“Kids love pirates – thanks to Johnny Depp of course,” Chewning said, making reference to the Hollywood actor. “But they have always love pirates. When they imagine pirates, they don’t think of what we see in ships off the coast of Somalia.”

During Saturday’s event, the Moody Crewe set up their own period tavern, the Goose and Bull Tavern. There they played games, “drank” and carried on conversations with the gathered crowd.

Davey, the gunner, and Alpheus, the quartermaster, spent much of their time talking with the children and showing the items that have been collected by the pirates.

After the demonstration, Alpheus, and three other members of the crew – Jamie (the carpenter), James (the cooper) and Edward (a female pirate who disguised herself as a male) took the crowd to the amphitheater to give them the history of pirates.

“It’s a great venue,” Carol Chewning, also a member of the Moody Crewe, said of the River Center. “You have the amphitheater to do the presentation and an open space to the firing demonstration.

“Everyone loves to see the guns and everyone loves the canon, which is new to our demonstration,” she said.

Saturday was a special day for Carol Chewning as it was her first opportunity to fire the canon, something she was pleased about. Chewning is the Tavern Mistress and talks to those who come to the demonstration about the food and drink of the day.

She said the tavern is usually set up as if it were Virginia, but Saturday’s demonstration was set up as Port Royal, Jamaica.

One of the most popular demonstrations of the day was the firing demonstration that both Chewnings were a part of. Children and adults gathered around as the Moody Crewe fired weapons of the period, explaining how pirates would defend their ship or board a ship they were intending to take.

“When they see the guns go off, the kids jump up and down and squeal,” Al Chewning said.

The 21-member Moody Crewe works throughout eastern North Carolina and Virginia. They brought 15 members of their crew to Windsor on Saturday. They have been featured at Pirate Fest in Greenville, Midwinter Meltdown in Manassas, Virginia and Pirate Camp at the Naval Museum in Portsmouth. They can be booked by visiting their website at www.moodycrewe.com.

The Roanoke-Cashie River Center is located 112 West Water Street on Hwy 17 in Windsor. The Center provides hands-on exhibits, a boardwalk, a Cultural Heritage Walk, historic artifacts, an outdoor amphitheater, a wetlands restoration pond, a gift shop, classroom and educational programs, community activities and more.