OCEANSIDE — There is lot to love about the annual Harbor Days celebration that marks the founding of Oceanside’s manmade marina.
Mornings start with a 7 a.m. pancake breakfast cooked and served by city firefighters. The Navy LCAC Hovercraft rolls in from the ocean and right up onto the beach. Then there’s a fishing derby, Tiki Swim Marathon, stage performances, beer garden, arts and craft booths, and the beloved Nail ‘N’ Sail competition.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the two-day event is the Pirate Village.
The first year that pirates were part of Harbor Days was 2006. They were an immediate hit.
June Blair, AKA Captain Junebug, the mayor of the Pirate Village, oversees village entertainment with the help of a few mateys.
“As the mayor of the Pirate Village, I have the responsibility of finding G-rated entertainers, and planning and organizing the free activities and games in the village,” Junebug said. “I will also spend the weekend doing my best to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves.”
This year free activities for kids age 11 and under will be added to the village experience. Another new addition is mermaids.
Kids who visit the village can enjoy getting a tattoo, going on a treasure hunt with pirates, participating in a costume contest and hearing a pirate or mermaid story.
There will also be cannon loading training and sword fight demonstrations.
Visitors can expect to interact with about 40 pirates and 20 mermaids throughout the weekend.
Another task for Junebug is to recruit pirates for the event.
Getting a bounty of pirates together is not easy. Especially when Harbor Days is not the only regional event beckoning pirates to come.
Junebug was first asked by Oceanside Chamber of Commerce to recruit pirates for the event in 2007.
It took changing the date of Harbor Days for Junebug to guarantee pirates would attend. That came about in 2010 after repeated demand from eventgoers.
“After the public continued requests for the Chamber to bring back the pirates, in 2010 the Chamber changed the weekend of Harbor Days,” Junebug said.
This year Junebug has invited the Royal French Privateers of Clan Darksail to participate, along with mateys and heartys who annually attend.
The local pirate guild has a goal of accurate historical portrayal of the Golden Age of Piracy from 1660 to 1670. While based on history, most pirates are created characters who would have lived at that time. Mermaids also have a story behind their character.
“Most are fantasy, like me matey Captain Jack Sparrow,” Junebug said. “I myself take on the persona of a modern day pirate, also known as living history pirate.”
Of course a highlight of a visit to the village is meeting Captain Junebug.
“I am not motivated to be a pirate, I am a pirate,” Junebug said.
Junebug first became a pirate in 1983.
“My freshman year at Oceanside High School I was the Pirate mascot,” Junebug said. “My junior and senior years, the captain of school spirit (squad).”
Junebug connected immediately with pirate life, and sailed on The Californian tall ship for 12 days during her senior high school year.
“I always saw myself as a pirate,” Junebug said.
At the Oceanside High School 100-year anniversary in 2006, she created and wore a pirate outfit, to honor her role as the school mascot.
Renewed with the pirate spirit, she attended a pirate night at a local watering hole, and met other pirates. That is where she learned of the Escondido Renaissance Faire, which she has now performed at for 10 years.
Through the years Junebug has established herself as a renown and beloved pirate. She regularly performs at five or more fairs a year, and volunteers at local events.
“This year was the very first time I crossed the state line and attended the Two Rivers (Renaissance) Faire in Yuma, Arizona,” Junebug said. “I was shock to find I already had fans there that went out of their way to be sure to meet me in person.”
For Junebug being a pirate, simply means being herself.
“Being a pirate is who I am, I am just like everyone else otherwise,” Junebug said.
Harbor Days takes place at Oceanside Harbor on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25. Events run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and until 5 p.m. Sunday. The Pirate Village opens at 9 a.m. both days.