MILTON — On Thursday, April 25, the Blackwater Pyrates were recognized twice for their contributions to the Milton community.

At 9 a.m., the Santa Rosa County Commissioners presented a certificate of special recognition to the Pyrates for their ongoing efforts to keep local waterways free of debris. 

Commission Chairman Sam Parker said, “We are so thankful for the hard work that the Blackwater Pyrates do for our community. Thus, we are presenting them with this certificate for their community service performed through the year, including river cleanup, boater safety, and maritime historical preservation.” Parker went on to say, “I know none of you do this for recognition. You do this for the good of our community. These are the kinds of folks that I want my kids to role model after.”

Blackwater Pyrate captain Mark Flores, known to the Pyrates as Captain Murky, said, “The amount of trash in the river has lessened over the years that we have been doing this, and we hope this is a sign that folks in our area are getting the message. Our efforts have promoted others to help us keep our sandbars and rivers clean.”

Later that afternoon, the Pyrates were recognized again when four educational kiosks were dedicated.

Pyrate Doug Lasater, known as Rumfront, said, “The Pyrates worked with the Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnerships (BWFP), and were co-sponsors of the three-sided educational kiosks that identify the flora and fauna of our area on one side, a maritime map showing a ‘you are here’ designation on another side, and a thumbnail sketch of the Blackwater River on the third side.”   

This last weekend the Blackwater Pyrates raised over $3,000 in their ongoing efforts to assist BWFP by hosting the second annual boating event known as the Poker Run. Over 80 boaters participated in the April 27 event, which featured archeology students from UWF giving historical presentations on seven shipwrecks along the Blackwater Bay and River. Event coordinator Larry "Lucky" McKee reported that this year the Pyrates raised  over $1,000 more for BWFP than last year, and hope to continue to raise even more next year with a third successful Poker Run.

“Ideas are being tossed around,” McKee said, “but one of our favorites so far incorporates the ghosts of the local waterways, like popular places that, thanks to hurricanes, are now only fond memories.”