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Arrrr mateys, pirates to drop anchor in SK

Pirates of all ages will descend on the town for Murder Mystery Weekend.  - File photo
Pirates of all ages will descend on the town for Murder Mystery Weekend.
— image credit: File photo

Downtown Port Orchard will be transformed into “Sidney,” a 19th Century waterfront community complete with marauding pirates, on Sept. 11 as the city stages its fifth annual Murder Mystery weekend.

A variety of local groups will make the transformation possible, but the main catalyst is Port Orchard’s Chamber of Commerce, where the idea originated.

Debbie Austin, a former chamber president, first proposed the concept of Port Orchard hosting a town-wide murder mystery weekend in 2004 when she saw a similar event hosted by Langley’s chamber of commerce.

Billi Gurnsey, who replaced Austin as chamber president in 2005, made the idea a reality and Port Orchard has hosted a murder mystery every year since then.

Besides helping organize the event, Gurnsey will take on the character “Shanghai Charlene” the pirate queen, during the murder mystery.

“She is the captain of her all-female pirate ship,” said Gurnsey. “Their specialty is wooing salors back to their ships and then stealing their stuff when they’re drunk with rum.”

Besides “Shanghai Charlene,” there will be 15 other pirate actors wandering the streets and a volunteer corps of about 30 people helping make the day possible.

Some have pirating experience with the SeaFair Pirates, and some also work as B.O.O.M. Pirates.

The shops and restaurants downtown will also help make the weekend possible.

The MoonDogs, Too restaurant will become The Jolly Roger Inn & Tavern and host a pirate ball from 6 to 8 p.m.

The menu will feature pirate stew in crusty bread-bowls from the Morning Side Bakery with a salad and blueberry or apple tart for dessert.

“Rumor has it that there will be some eyeballs floating in that stew, but they’ll probably look a lot like little pearl onions to adults,” said Darryl Baldwin, the owner of Moondogs, Too.

Admission to the ball will cost $15 for adults and $7 for kids, and Baldwin expects “a full-crowd” that night.

Some merchants downtown will also give away clues in their shops throughout the day.

Mallory Jackson, the owner of Custom Picture Framing, said she typically gives out clues during the murder mystery weekends to encourage people to come into her store, even if they don’t buy anything.

“It’s not a big sales day for me,” she said. “But it does give people a lot of ideas.”

Clue packets with maps and information about which stores have clues will be sold at the corner of Bay St. and Harrison from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

They cost $5 for children 12 and under, $10 for those older than 12 and $20 for families of three or more.

The chamber of commerce pays for the event mostly through donations, and, this year, Wave Broadband donated an advertising package worth about $20,000.

Typically, around 250 to 300 people show up to solve the mystery.

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