Sunday, July 9, 2006 - 12:00 AM

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ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Claudia Rentrop watches the Chief Seattle fireboat as it passes Alki Beach before Saturday's annual Seafair Pirates Landing.



Seafair Pirates come ashore at Alki

By David Montgomery
Seattle Times staff reporter

On the same weekend that moviegoers around the country are flocking to see the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirates in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, Seattle crowds were thronging to Alki Beach to check out a different crew.

The Seafair Pirates "landed" Saturday afternoon much to the delight of hundreds of children and many more young at heart and occupied the beach until late afternoon. The pirates have been showing up at Seafair almost constantly since the 1950s, and continue to entertain.

Chayton Allen, 13, spent the entire day on Alki Beach, decked out in a pirate-style leather vest and tricorn hat. Allen, who enthusiastically labeled the day "fun," said his favorite part was the landing, when the pirates arrived in their "Moby Duck" boat and greeted the crowds.

Allen's father, Eddie, also sporting a pirate hat, has been coming with his son for years, and both of them intend to come back.

"It's just a good day to come out with the kids," Eddie Allen said. "Dress up a little, spend a little money supporting local artisans and just have a great time. You can't beat this day."

For Jeff Hofeditz, a Seafair pirate for five years, the day is a great opportunity to entertain and help kids. He mingled with children in full regalia, and entertained children and their parents with a pirate drawl.

Behind the fun, the pirates are about charity. They host more than 100 events each year and give away thousands of toys. The first 500 kids Saturday received toy kits with a plastic sword, compass, eye patch and spyglass.

Part of the pirates' appeal is their sheer silliness. Neither pirate Chayton Allen nor Hofeditz could put into words why a day in costume was so captivating. "It's just fun a fun way to do charity," Hofeditz said.

David Montgomery: 206-464-3214 or dmontgomery@seattletimes.com