Billy Bowlegs takes city, forces Fort Walton Beach mayor to walk plank

Devon Ravine
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — As the sound of cannon fire cracked under a clear blue sky, Capt. Billy Bowlegs and his pirate krewe stormed Fort Walton Landing on Saturday afternoon, a year after their annual invasion was thwarted by COVID-19.  

Boats pass in front of the lead pirate boat during the 65th annual Billy Bowlegs Festival in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

Hundreds of people, some of them dressed as pirates themselves, lined up to greet the invaders as they came ashore. Leading the charge was Buddy Carter, Capt. Billy LXV, and his queen, Elizabeth "Beck" England.

Pirate Queen Elizabeth "Beck" England and Capt. Billy Bowlegs LXV Buddy Carter walk along Miracle Strip Parkway during the 65th annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

Carter was also assisted in his effort to take over the city by the past seven Capt. Billys, who squared off against Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson, and City Council members Nic Allegretto, Kirby Locklear, MG Moran, David Schmidt.

Former Capt. Billys make their way through the crowd at Fort Walton Landing on Saturday during the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival.

The pirates made short work of the city’s defenders, prompting the mayor to issue a conditional surrender.

“If you promise and pledge to make this a weekend of fun and frivolity, then you can have the city,” Rynearson said.

The mayor’s surrender didn’t save him from having to walk the plank — into a kiddie pool complete with an inflatable shark fin.

Capt. Billy Bowlegs LXV Buddy Carter and Queen Elizabeth "Beck" England make Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson walk the plank and jump into a shark fin-infested kiddie pool during the 65th annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival.

On Monday night Capt. Billy and the Krewe of Bowlegs will celebrate their victory and mark the conclusion of the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival with a parade up Eglin Parkway. The parade route begins at 7 p.m. and will run from First Street north to Hughes Street.