The sculpture of a pirate, Peg Leg Pete, may be the most photographed icon in the City of Fernandina Beach. He was removed from his perch by members of the Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. recently so he could undergo intensive rehabilitation. For over 40 years, the deteriorating landmark stood as a symbol of community fellowship.
Several downtown Fernandina merchants, members of the Historic Fernandina Business Association, voted to pay for the cost of repairs. Without the generosity of a few local businesses such as the Amelia Island Maritime Museum, Downtown Maintenance, the City of Fernandina Beach, the Fernandina Pirates Club, and Seaside Gallery Artist Julie Delfs, Pete likely only had a few years left.
Peg Leg Pete has become a piece of Amelia Island’s history having been hand carved by Wayne Ervin from a single, ten-foot piece of live oak at the urging of the 1978 Arts and Crafts director of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Robert Lannon, also a wood carver. It took the cooperative spirit of an additional two dozen volunteers and contributors to bring the monument to life. A community-wide contest to name the statue was won by the students of Emma Love Hardee Elementary School, and Peg Leg Pete took his place to watch over the city on October 14, 1978.
Once before, in 2007, the Fernandina Pirates kidnapped their comrade for refurbishing where they found much more damage than expected. There was a birds nest in his head, his core was fragile and termites were destroying his crumbling wood.
Pete has been repaired and the community is preparing for his joyous return on February 29, 2020. The Unveiling of Peg Leg Pete will be held at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Visitors Welcome Center, located at 102 Centre Street. This free, family friendly event includes a brief presentation, speakers, tattoos and coloring pages for the kids, Pirates, and free refreshments.