Tom Smart, Deseret News
Mark Polichette rides at an event dubbed "Ride Like a Pirate Day" Friday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.

A small band of about 25 swashbuckling bandits gathered in Liberty Park Friday to celebrate one of the world's lesser-known holidays: Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Organizers put their own spin on festivities, centering the theme on biking to raise funds for new equipment for the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective.

Davey Davis, one of the event organizers and a volunteer at the collective, said that he and others put the event together so they could make use of scrap steel donated to the organization. Often, he said, bikes can't be refurbished, but with a welding iron and a few tools, they can mix-and-match parts and pieces to create "freak bikes" for people to ride.

"Freak bikes are the reappropriation of junked bikes," Davis said. "With tools we could make something new from the parts and waste less material."

So the group could open the Freak Shop, they asked for $5 donations from participants.

At the event, "pirates" participated in mini-bike races and a scavenger hunt for lost doubloons (plastic variety). They faced off in a derring-do game of capture-the-flag. The events were loosely structured and more focused on the fun of sharing in the experience than actual competition.

"Cycling events are easy to organize because people just show up, ride their bikes, talk with each other and meet new people," Davis said. "These types of things involve the community and local businesses so everyone has a chance to connect and have fun."

Attendees were dressed in all manner of pirate attire, with some sporting a simple eye patch and others equipped with scimitars and ruffled shirts. Yet everyone seemed delighted to celebrate the out-of-bounds deviance that pirates represent.

"I came out to celebrate because pirates were some of the first anarchists I can think of," said Robin Banks, a resident of Salt Lake City and self-described anarchist. "Pirates' Day is better than most national holidays I can think of."

While pirates may have become infamous throughout the 16th and 17th centuries for plundering, looting and terrorizing the seas, this group was more interested in having a good time. Authority and rules weren't popular Friday. Community and friendship were.

Esther Merono of Salt Lake City, who is the founder of FTP woman's bike club, came out to support her community.

"It's just fun to bike and dress up," Merono said. "I just like the idea pirates represent: The freedom to sail the open seas and avoid law and authority. That sounds nice."


E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com