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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Behind-the-scenes at The Pirate Museum

It’s 10 p.m. on a Thursday night and I’m down on my knees scraping errant splashes of paint from wooden floors.

On the model ship’s deck, our director of sales and marketing is working the dry vac, sucking up scattered sawdust with an intensity that screams Virgo.

“I have. To get. It All. Up,” Cindy pants.

Out back in Shipwreck Island, I spot museum founder and head honcho Pat Croce sweeping up dust from the exhibit’s tabby-like floors. For this is how Pat is: A hands-on man; titles don’t matter when you’re working as a team.

In fewer than 19 hours, city officials will descend on the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum for its soft launch—and we’ll be ready.

For the past seven months, I’ve had the privilege of working with Pat and our burgeoning super team of museum, construction, creative and business experts to bring The Pirate Museum to life.

We shut the doors of Pirate Soul Museum in Key West—opened by Pat in 2005 to share his extensive collection of authentic pirate artifacts—in August and made for St. Augustine.

A year ago, I knew more about state government and Flagler County as a reporter than I knew about pirates, and public relations was an unlikely home. But Pat’s passion for pirates is viral.

And here I am on a Thursday night on my knees, scraping errant splashes of paint from wooden floors—and loving every moment of it.

The task of breaking down a museum in one city and moving it to new digs 800 miles north is not easy. From artifact shipping and storage and new exhibit design to local permits, rebranded promotional materials and temperamental creatives, it’s definitely a logistical challenge; one that we were charged by Pat to pull off in less than a year.

Bring it.

In the past several weeks as we’ve picked up speed, it’s been inspiring and gratifying to see the final pieces begin to fall into place, to see teammates clink glasses after heated words, to finally get a very real picture of what we’ve all been working toward: The most emotionally immersive, interactive and authentic pirate experience in the world, right here in St. Augustine.

In a very real sense, we now all share Pat’s passion for pirates and excellence and it will be an exciting moment when we’re able to in turn share it with you all.

I invite you to visit us at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum next month and beyond to unleash your pirate soul. With hundreds of centuries-old artifacts, rarely-seen state shipwreck treasures, and dozens of interactives, it will blow you out of the water.

I promise.

Kari Cobham is a former staff writer at The Daytona Beach News-Journal. She now does public relations for Pat Croce & Co. projects. She's working on her first novel and doesn't watch CSI as often as she used to. Writing in third person is awkward and fun.

Photo Credit: Florida Times-Union
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