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Yo ho ho and a barrel of fun at Buc Days!

The Buc Days Festival and Carnival brings 10 days of live music, high-adrenaline rides, and pirates to Corpus Christi. Courtesy photo

Ahoy, matey! Corpus Christi’s favorite pirate festival returns with more events and attractions than ever before for its 81st year. The Buc Days Festival and Carnival runs May 3-13 with live music, movies, and more.

This year, the celebration will take advantage of the new Water’s Edge Park. A stage will be set up on the slab with exciting showcases each day of the festival. This year’s Buc Days Festival introduces Friday Movie Nights, inviting guests to bring their blankets and hang out in front of the silver screen.

On May 4, the festival will present the pirate classic “Hook” starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland. May 11, the last Friday of the festival, features “The Sandlot,” a crowd-pleasing film about kids, baseball, and summer fun.

Local bands will perform throughout the festival, but the biggest attraction comes May 12, the last Saturday night. Roger Creager, a country music singer from Corpus Christi, will take the stage to perform live for festivalgoers.

The Red Pirate Dragons from Port Aransas take the stage throughout the day for pirate shows. This scurvy lot of scallywags and hooligans will also be exploring the festival grounds with their shenanigans, so be on the lookout.

The mayor can’t hide, however, as being kidnapped by pirates is part of the job description. Mayor Joe McComb will walk the plank into the icy waters of Corpus Christi Bay at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 3, as Buc Days participants watch from the seawall.

“I really enjoy the dunking of the mayor — it’s what gets the festival started,” said Tricia Perrone, sponsorship and marketing manager for Buc Days. “They’re pretty good at keeping a smile on their faces despite the cold water.”

The Buc Days Carnival features more than 50 rides in an amusement park-like setting along Corpus Christi Bay. Courtesy photo

Last year’s carnival was put on by a new company, which brought bigger and faster rides presented in an amusement park-like setting. Along with the carnival were new amenities such as phone-charging stations, lockers, and plenty of shaded seating.

“The new carnival got a lot of good feedback last year,” Perrone said. “People were happy to try the new rides and liked the new amenities.”

The carnival, which attracts mostly local families, brought in more than 40,000 people last year, a 4.6 percent increase from 2016. Over 120,000 people joined the crowd at the parade.

Each year, the parades, carnival, and rodeo accounts for an economic impact of about $9 million, money that goes into the pockets of local businesses through commerce and to students through scholarships.

“Ultimately, all the events we do — the rodeo, carnival, parades, and off-season fundraisers — are all focused on raising money for scholarships,” President and CEO Johnny Philipello told Corpus Christi Business News.

Each year, the Buc Days Leadership Program draws 90 applicants from local high school seniors contending for collegiate scholarships. Applicants are narrowed down to 20 finalists — half male and half female — through interviews, essays, and public speaking competitions.

Buc Days will crown a king and a queen: the two finalists who showed the best attendance, top participation, and most enthusiasm as a Buc Days ambassador.

“All 20 finalists will be awarded a range of scholarships,” Philipello said. “We’ll award additional scholarships to the colleges and universities in the Coastal Bend.”

The carnival, which offers live music, games, amusements, rides, and a petting zoo, is open to the public on May 3-13 from 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5 p.m.-midnight Fridays, noon-midnight Saturdays, and noon-10 p.m. Sundays.

The ever-popular Buc Days Illuminated Night Parade will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5. Line up and down Leopard Street to see a display of floats, marching bands, and equestrians. The Junior Parade will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, with pirates of all ages joining the fun.

For admission, tickets, and more information, visit

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