I dropped by the Pirate and Treasure Museum recently and the folks down there asked if I wanted to do an interview with Pat on-camera. I said, “Sure, why not?”
After they powdered my nose, I was careful given instructions to talk and give steady gaze to the camera, but in the excitement of the moment – and with all Pat’s passion for his topic and very vivid hand gestures – I forgot.
I’m giving this disclaimer because – well, as you can see, I am sooo not Jessica Clark (my favorite TV reporter on First Coast News). So please forgive me the excessive nodding and too many blinks, but you can tell, as with many who call America’s Oldest City home, I’m as enthusiastic as Pat when it comes to the positive attributes of our lovely St. Augustine.
Pat Croce interview video below or click here to watch in youtube.com
In this casual and impromptu interview, we get Pat Croce at his most excitable state when discussing our city’s history. And believe me – if you’ve been anywhere in the vicinity of Pat when he’s giving an interview – this guy is a one-man can of Red Bull! Especially when you get him talking on one of his plethora of pet pirate or historical projects – but he particularly waxes eloquent on the charms of his adopted city.
In fact – dare we say – Pat should have a bumper sticker that reads: I <3 St Augustine!
He’ll talk about his favorite historic sites, including the Castillo de San Marcos fort and Fountain of Youth, but also his ongoing expeditions to Portebelo, Panama where he and his dive team discovered two of Sir Francis Drake’s scuttled funeral ships. Btw: Pat says he has not given up on his endeavor to recover the illustrious privateer’s body.
Read more about the Croce/Drake expeditions:
Pirate explorer Pat Croce: still hoping to return body of Drake
St. Augustine Pirate Museum’s Pat Croce’s discovers Drake ships
Voyage to bottom of the sea for Sir Francis Drake’s remains – CNN.com
“My greatest hope is to one day sail up the Thames and return Drake home to Queen Elizabeth II. I want this with my whole heart – more than anything – so I’ll never give up,” Pat said.
His update on the Drake project is toward the end of the interview, so ( if you can put up with my excessive rah-rah nods and blinks) stick around to hear more about his continued hope of recovering Drake’s body, his new book about to be released for children on QE’s “favorite pirate,” and the latest news on the Colonial Quarter, which will feature the debut of the Colonial Quarter Crew review stage show on June 22.
The actual headline topic of discussion for Pat, and for which he called the interview: Why St. Augustine is rapidly becoming a must-see Florida vacation destination. We also talk (and get very excited!) about how our “quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem” (quoting one of our bestselling tee-shirts – not Pat!) is now receiving so many top-ten accolades from even the likes of National Geographic, Foder’s, Tripadvisor.com and Forbes that it is also becoming known as hotspot for international tourism.
***Consider that an article and slideshow I ran on a battle reenactment here (just happened to be Drake’s Raid) got over 140,000 hits on the web, and even after one year, international readers are still hitting the slideshow and sending me emails to inquire about how they can plan a vacation here. And yes – they always ask, “Will there be pirates?”
Pat also talks about why he decided to relocate his pirate museum from Key West – a seemingly perfect setting – to St. Augustine.
“I was asked by the city and 450th’s Dana Ste. Clare to come here and give a talk about pirates… I left that night owning this building (the museum on San Marco).”
My very favorite quote of all from Pat, in which I feel he expresses the unique connection and complete adoration so many of us share for our village:
“I love this town. I love this town’s history… I love the ground below our feet because it has artifacts (that are a record of the history). After all, what other city in America has to have its own archaeologist on staff?”
Cool youtube.com video link with city archeologist Dr. Carl Halbirt on site of the Colonial Quarter
So then, while this isn’t hard news, departs from AP-style and my customary rule of third-person news only, (and, yes, it’s even a bit of kitche and its rah-rah to extreme!) please enjoy the sentiments. No matter what your politics, grievances or personal peeves, I think we can all find common ground and a moment of thoughtful moment of Huzzah! Or should we say, “Viva La Florida in this 500th year.”
And, best of all, a big shout-out for our up-and-coming little village: Viva St. Agustin’!
***Note to Sir Francis D in this month of the anniversary of his 1586 attempt to burn us out (with accompanying video link): Dude, we’re still standin’, yeah, yeah, etc.
Now, must get down self-and-Nikon down to that pirate, ahem, Privateer’s Ball… For a humble little settlement, does it get any better? Over all, I think Ponce and Pedro Menendez would be proud.
***Special thanks to KEF Media, out of Smyrna, Ga, which shot and edited this video presentation