ESQUIMALT -- This weekend, Esquimalt was supposed to celebrate its annual Buccaneer Days, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the treasured festivities had to be cancelled.

Traditionally, there would be a Buccaneer Day parade, in which hundreds of people take part with floats and other forms of transportation. Thousands of people line the streets to watch and take in the spectacle, and the midway and other attractions draw thousands more over the weekend.

The citizens of Esquimalt are also typically awakened – at a very early hour – by a loudspeaker mounted atop a van calling “Wakey, Wakey!” as it rolls down the streets.

This year, none of that will be happening.

That’s not stopping a couple of swashbuckling pirates, however, who are coming to the rescue and hoping to bring some joy to the community in true buccaneer style.

A roadworthy, four-wheeled pirate ship named Morgana set sail around the streets of Esquimalt Saturday.

Mike Miller, Lance Jesson and their crew (actually their family), have spent the past few days preparing the “pirate ship” for its voyage on the asphalt sea. Their mission is to put smiles on the faces of Esquimalt residents.

“We’re going to bring the Buccaneer Days to them,” Miller says. “We’re going to do a one-float parade, which pretty well guarantees us first place in every category.”

It took Miller and Jesson around 650 hours to build this version of the Morgana a couple of years ago, and it debuted in last year’s Buccaneer Days parade.

The first version of the ship the pair of pirates built lasted about 15 years. Then it was “laid to rest at the bottom of the sea with Davey Jones’ locker,” Miller says, laughing.

The two community-minded Esquimalt residents wanted to keep the Buccaneer spirit alive and are asking the public to do the same.

“Come on out, be on your front yard, have a bit of a pirate party with your family and make the best of this as you can,” says Jesson.

The township of Esquimalt is also encouraging residents to celebrate Buccaneer Days at home and cheer on the road pirates as they drive by.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins applauds the men.

In a statement to CTV Vancouver Island, she wrote:

“As we all continue to face the challenges of COVID-19 and the losses we are experiencing, it is wonderful to have community members come forward with a way to alleviate some of our stress. The Morgana crew deserve a huge thanks for being the start of our Virtual Buccaneer Day. From this, pancake breakfasts at home, colouring contests and dressing up as pirates are happening and Esquimalt will hold strongly our memory of Buccaneer Days.”

Buccaneer Days is a non-profit, community fundraising event held every year. More on the history of the event can be found on its website.

Miller and Jesson both want the public to think about next year’s Buccaneer Days and continue with the community spirit that surrounds the beloved event.

They ask residents to respect social distancing and not crowd the streets during the Morgana’s sail past.

The one-float parade followed the traditional “Wakey-Wakey” route, which can be found here, along with print out pirates that kids can colour and put in their windows at home.