By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, July 30, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Liz Markhlevskaya photo]
HAMPTON BEACH -- Idaho is the home of the World's Largest Baked Potato, Utah has its Giant Pink Dinosaur and apparently Hampton Beach is where you go if you want to take a photograph of the Giant Pirate.
The 27-foot tall, 15-foot wide pirate statue at Buc's Lagoon mini-golf on Ocean Boulevard was recently highlighted as one of the top 50 American Original sites in a July 25 Parade magazine article entitled "15 ways to enjoy summer."
One of the recommendations on how to enjoy summer — made by the nationally circulated magazine — was to visit an American Original. The pirate made the list of 50 sites at number 41.
"It was a surprise to us to see it on the list of things to go see," said owner John Schertell, who heard about it after a neighbor showed him a copy of the magazine.
"We never really did any promotion on it. I guess it's just been showing up in people's photographs for so long that it's finally catching some attention."
Schertell said the pirate has been a Hampton Beach landmark for more than three decades.
It was originally a part of the mini-golf course that was on Ashworth Avenue and came along for the ride when the then-owners moved the course to its current site.
Schertell said he purchased the course in 1997 and remodeled it, highlighting the pirate.
"We named him Buc after buccaneer," said Schertell, who said they added all things pirate including caves, waterfalls, palm trees, pirate flags, skeletons with patches over their eyes, and a few shrunken heads.
Buc, he said, became the centerpiece of the 18-hole, mini-golf course with his wooden leg blocking the final hole.
"It amazes me how many people come to the course just to take their picture with the pirate," Schertell said. "It's got to be one of the most photographed things around at the beach."
Schertell said there was even a couple who had their wedding photo taken underneath the massive structure.
The pirate's body is composed of a pipe frame, with steel crossbeams and a fiberglass outer shell.
The structure is so big that a person can walk inside it with ease. "It's pretty large and has taken some beatings over the years," Schertell said.
Schertell said there was a point when he thought about getting rid of the pirate.
In 2004, it toppled over onto the golf course after 50 mph wind storm and the estimated cost to repair it was more than $10,000.
"He fell on a whiskey barrel used to plant flowers in and cracked his good leg," he said.
"While we thought about letting him go, so many people came out and said we have to bring back the pirate."
Schertell said he started a fund-raising campaign similar to when the orange dinosaur at the Route 1 mini-golf in Massachusetts toppled over.
While people came out of the woodwork to repair the dinosaur, the pirate didn't garner the same reaction.
"While they wanted him back they didn't want to pay for it," Schertell joked.
But Schertell said he's glad he made the investment.
"I think back to that moment and I'm glad we repaired it. If we didn't we would never caught all this attention," Schertell said. "It's a part of Hampton Beach."