Westchase pirate crew have hearts of gold

The Westchase Krewe of Freebooters is welcome to new members who share a passion for charity and socializing.

WESTCHASE — It’s a pirate’s life for members of the Westchase Krewe of Freebooters, and before any rum is gone, the Krewe makes sure the community is taken care of first.

Between hosting golf tournaments, food drives, helping local schools, volunteering for Operation Helping Hand, and other charitable acts of service, the Freebooters is a social club that keeps busy and knows how to have fun.

The Freebooters are in the midst of an active parade season, kicking off the year with Gasparilla and most recently, a St. Patrick’s parade in Ybor City. The public has probably spotted them tossing beads from aboard a huge pirate ship float and waving cheerfully to the crowd below them.

The season to join the Freebooters officially opens in June, but anyone interested is encouraged to attend events and get to know what the club is all about. A Krewe member isn’t in it just for the social aspect or only for the charity work but enjoys a mix of the two while geared up in pirate attire.

“We want someone who’s charitably inclined, likes to socialize and have fun, but someone who also wants to help organize something and be an active member,” said Capt. Dean Landsman.

Post-parade season, the Krewe will return to hosting socials and charity events. To date, the Freebooters has raised $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation through its golf tournaments.

The Freebooters were formed in Spring Hill in 2003. Landsman helped to bring the club to Westchase several years ago because more members were active in that location.

“We are absolutely pirates,” Landsman said. “We talk like pirates, we act like pirates, we are pirates for the day when we’re out in costume.”

According to the Krewe’s website, the club describes the origin of the “Freebooter” from the Dutch word “vrijbuiter.” Vrijbuiter means a plunderer, but “vrijbuit” itself means free (“vrij”) and booty (“buit”). Upon hearing the word in the 16th century, English speakers altered it to become more current with their language and so started calling pirates “freebooter.”

To learn more about Westchase Krewe of Freebooters events, visit https://westchasekrewe.com.