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History of the Krewe

THE BONNEY-READ KREWE
 


The Bonney-Read Krewe is an all-female krewe that was formed in 1994 and began participating in the Gasparilla and Sant'Yago Knight parades in 1995. It evolved from the Hyde Park Women's Club and is served by a men's auxiliary of husbands and significant others, suitably named "Grogmasters." The founders of the Hyde Park Women's Club and the Krewe are Camille Matthews, Carol Ferguson, and Linda Will.

Our Krewe is based on the lives of two female pirates, Anne Bonney and Mary Read, who sailed the Caribbean in the early 1700s, masquerading as men. Feminists before their time, they were known as "ferocious hellcats" and are considered to be the most famous women pirates in history.

Anne and Mary sailed with Captain Jack Rackham also know as Calico Jack -- until their crew was captured by the British Navy in 1720, brought to trial in Jamaica, and sentenced to death by hanging. On the day they were caught, Jack's drunken crew had cowered below deck, leaving only Anne and Mary to defend the ship. Our motto is taken from Anne's parting words to Calico Jack, uttered just before he was hanged: "Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang'd like a dog."

At their sentencing, Anne and Mary "pleaded their bellies" they were both pregnant, so their sentences were stayed temporarily. It is believed that Mary died in prison shortly after the birth of her child, but Anne was somehow spirited out, and she spent the rest of her life regaling others with tales of her exploits as a pirate.

Each year, we choose two Krewe members and a Grogmaster to represent us as Anne Bonney, Mary Read, and Calico Jack.

Small by most standards, our Krewe has only sixty members -- all professional women, all "women of spirit and wit." We are also known as Sisters of the Sword and the Pirate Queens.

Our costumes reflect the manner in which Anne and Mary dressed to disguise themselves as men: plumed hats, reversible black capes with brilliantly colored linings, pirate blouses, colorful vests and sashes, black pants cut below the knee, white stockings, and black shoes. We each carry a long sword -- an essential part of our trademark bead-tossing technique that allows us to reach those parade-goers in the back of the crowds, in second- and third-story windows, and on overhead bridges.

A closed Krewe, we add only a small number of new members each year all close friends of existing members.

Although we are a social Krewe, our members are involved individually in volunteer work in their communities and we have participated in various fund-raising activities as a Krewe throughout the years.

We schedule an array of social functions throughout the year; however, these events are open only to Krewe members, Grogmasters, and invited guests.



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