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Arrgh you ready for Buc Days?

The Buc Days Illuminated Night Parade is one of the largest single-day events in the region, according to President and CEO Johnny Philipello. Courtesy photo

For 80 years now, pirates have paraded through the streets of Corpus Christi, dunking mayors, riding roller coasters and eating cotton candy. This year, the Buc Days Festival and Carnival runs May 4-14 and has a whole flurry of new attractions and amenities — minus the mayoral dunking since there is no mayor. (Someone WILL be dunked. We just don’t know who yet!)

The celebration has a new carnival coming with bigger and faster rides. There are also all-new amenities such as phone-charging stations, lockers for storage, baby-changing areas and lots of seating.

Buc Days draws approximately 240,000 visitors each year to the junior parade, the night parade, the carnival and the rodeo, pulling an economic impact of about $9.5 million.

These pirates aren’t stealing that money; it’s going into the pockets of local businesses and students.

“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 said.

The 2016-17 Buc Days Leadership Program drew 90 applicants from local high school seniors contending for $37,000 in collegiate scholarships. Applicants were narrowed down to 20 finalists — half male and half female — through interviews, essays and public speaking competitions.

Finalists go through a Dale Carnegie Leadership program in which they do exercises in community awareness, service projects, college tours and more. The finalists also serve as Buc Days ambassadors the duration of the festival.

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, amusements, rides and a petting zoo, is open to the public from 5-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, May 4-14, 5 p.m.-midnight Fridays and noon-midnight Saturdays.

Time to dust off the stuffed parrot and practice your pirate growls. Arrrgh you ready for Buc Days?

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