The Blackbeard Pirate Festival continues, five years after tornado hit event

Posted at 8:20 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 21:06:57-04

HAMPTON, Va. - The Blackbeard Pirate Festival is bringing back fun for a lot of families in downtown Hampton June 2 - 4. However five years ago it wasn't all fun as a tornado went through the festival.

Participants told News 3 it's something they can look back and laugh about, but it wasn't a joking matter when it happened in 2012.

"I was very scared. I was scared for everybody," said pirate participant, Lady Hope.

It's a tornado the City of Hampton will never forget. It touched down and left the camp ground destroyed at Blackbeard Pirate Festival in 2012.

Pirate role players said it happened on the first night of the event.

"The tornado came right over the harbor down here and it landed right here in our camp," Lady Hope said.

Captain Dunkin McGyver has been coming to the festival for over 10 years and told News 3 he hasn't seen anything like it.

"Lights started to flicker and we were like, 'ah O.K. you know power issue or something.' We just had no idea that such a severe storm was heading in."

The tornado destroyed tents and belongings.

 People recalled a handicap ramp being picked up in the height of the storm and damaged a nearby home.

McGyver added, "Big silver, aluminum, 800 pounds, it was picked up and tossed through the ridge beam of the roof from one of the adjacent town houses, and there was just a gaping hole."

Luckily no one got hurt during the storm, but participants and the City of Hampton worked through the night to put the festival back on schedule.

"The Salvation Army was out with the soup truck and they fed us breakfast," he continued. "Home Depot sent a team out. People with orange shirts to do whatever grunt work that needed to be done."

People who lived through the scary moment said they event wouldn't have continued through the weekend without teamwork.

The festival was just delayed two hours after the cleanup that Saturday.

Festival-goers tell News 3 the aftermath brought everyone involved with the cleanup together.