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The Buccaneers of Lake Charles: More Than Just a Social Club
2/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

The Buccaneers have been hoisting the Jolly Roger over Lake Charles for decades. But while its members are known to love life and have a lot of fun, it’s so much more than just a social organization. 

Contraband Days was formed in 1957 by what was then the Chamber of Commerce. The inaugural festival was held in 1958, and few years later, the Buccaneers organization was created by a group of local business owners, not only to support the festival, but also to celebrate tourism in Southwest Louisiana. The group has thrived ever since. 

Jimmy and Jackie Bastow became members in 1995. "We joined because we would see people in the compound during Contraband Days and thought it looked like so much fun,” says Jackie.  "We knew a few people in the organization, so we took the plunge and joined.”

The Bastows ended up doing more than that. Jimmy was the first board member to hold the office of president twice, in 2006-2007 and again in 2016-2017. In addition, he was Jean Lafitte in 2014.  

Jean Lafitte is an honorary position, chosen annually by the current president of the board. Each president has his own reasons as to why he chooses a particular Buccaneer to be his Jean Lafitte. It may include his personality, dedication to the organization and the ability to devote a lot of time to the community. Jean and Madame Lafitte are basically the face of the Buccaneers for a full year, and it’s a huge commitment. 

Today, the Buccaneers still represent at the Louisiana Pirate Festival (which has replaced Contraband Days) as well as the City of Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana at conventions, reunions and public events.  

The organization spreads goodwill through what are called "raids” or reenactments. Essentially, members get together in their pirate attire (most made by local costumers) and attend various fundraisers and events, handing out doubloons, beads, and other trinkets. 

The Buccaneers participated in at least 40 raids last year. They included the National Night Out Law Enforcement event in August, Dillard’s National Collegiate Day, Beauregard Elementary School’s "International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” the Lake Charles Ballet, Families Helping Families, Lil Troopers Raid (for children of veterans), the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals, the Louisiana Student Council Convention, the McNeese/Petrochem Golf Classic, and others. 

The Buccaneers also respond to requests by schools, nursing homes and assisted living residences. Members bring toys to the annual Christmas Ball, which are then dispersed to various charities. 

The pirates are avid McNeese supporters. They have a float in the university’s homecoming parade, and shoot the cannons at the football games when the Pokes score. 

"Everything we share with the public is bought either by the members or by the organization, including the gunpowder and cannons used at McNeese games,” Jackie says. 

The Buccaneers of Lake Charles have a public Facebook page filled with photos depicting their community involvement. They are open to new members, so if you’re interested in fun and fellowship with a great group of people, check them out. 

Posted by: Stefanie Powers | Submit comment | Tell a friend


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