Band of pirates finds joy in performing for fundraisers, events throughout the area

There is more to pirating than parrots, drinking rum and burying treasure.

If names like Blackbeard or Henry Morgan sound familiar, it is because pirates have been romanticized through books and movies. The truth is, they spent much of their time pillaging and killing.

But don't let that be your last image of pirates. A new breed is alive and well in Stark County.

Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass are nothing like their forefathers. Many will gladly tell you they are a fine group of like-minded souls with big hearts and small egos.

"They are definitely the nicest pirates I have ever met," said Donald Jensen, youth sports coordinator at the Paul and Carol David YMCA in Jackson Township. "It is kind of funny because a pirate is someone who takes and steals, but they give back so much to the community. It is ironic, isn't it? We've all heard of Jack Sparrow, but they are nothing like him."

Pirates for hire

These pirates are available for hire for parties and fund-raisers.

So, who are they?

Cap'n Blade is better known as Stephen Hinton of Canton.

"I have always loved pirates," he said. "About five years ago, a friend of mine, Jeff Dickerson of Canton, needed some help with a birthday party where he was playing Jack Sparrow. He asked me if I wanted to be a pirate for the party. Of course, I said yes. I personally had such a good time, I knew I wanted to do this."

His wife, Trinity, was not at the party, but when she saw the excitement in Hinton's description of portraying a pirate, she knew there was a future in pirating for them.

About two years ago, Hinton was asked to participate in a haunt in Massillon. That is where he met Ken Smith of Massillon, who also is a pirate at heart. The two clicked and formed Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass, with Trinity rounding out the trio. The three are the owners of group.

Smith is first mate. His pirate name is Hatteras Jack. Quartermaster Trinity and First Mate Hatteras Jack both hold the same rank.

Trinity Hinton noted the group works with numerous organizations to fulfill their entertainment needs. They have recently added a mermaid to their performances.

"We are going to offer weddings in the future," said Cap'n Blade, who is getting his documentation soon and then will register with the state, enabling him to perform weddings.

Other pirates on the crew are Rob Dervin (Fathom), Chris McManus (Edge), Cody Hoce (Gutshot Grimm), Kaylin McManus (honorary member), David McManus (Tweety), Wayne Hoce ("Razorchest Ramsey"), Holly Branch ("Violet"), Ricky Plesia ("Topside Rick"), Mike Harlan ("Barnacle Bill"), Laura Harlan ("Lady Gen"), Chris Cagle ("Calico"), Shaun Richey ("Ziggy"), Danielle De'Anna Barnes ("Ary"), Eric Macuski ("Mad Swede"), Bobby Simmons ("Loner.")

"The crew is wonderful," Smith said. "They are the type of people who always got your back, they always watch out for you, and we always lift each other up. We click together more like a family than a crew."

Their treasure is a smile

Smith is a history buff.

"I also have a very deep fondness for the sea and anything nautical," Smith said. "I think that is where I got started. The pirate persona is romanticized because it was a way men could make their own way in life. Today's pirates, as far as our crew is concerned, get their treasure in the smiles on the faces of our audience. When you see a kid's face light up, even an adult, we know we've done our job. Our job is to entertain folks. Their smile is our 'wow' factor."

Andrew Hall, program coordinator for the Ohio History Connection Museum in Columbus, said the Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass performed for one in a series of Friday movies last year during a showing "Goonies."

"The interpretation they provided was perfect," said Hall. "They provided entertainment for children in keeping with what we consider a pirate to be, not what pirates were like in history. If we have another situation arise where we can use them, we will be more than happy to have them back. Their program was professional and entertaining."

Among the events the Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass perform are fundraisers for food drives, clothing donations, kid-friendly Halloween attractions. They do parties, fairs and festivals.

When the Oddmall, a traveling art show with vendors in Northeast Ohio, invited the pirates to provide live entertainment during a recent show in Green, Andy Hopp, founder-organizer at Oddmall, said, "They are great. We did a holiday show they participated in, and they had a Santa Claus pirate (played by Ken Smith). That was very cool. They contribute to the overall character of the show. Great. They are invited to all or our shows."

Reach Denise at 330-580-8321 or denise.sautters@cantonrep.com; On Twitter: dsauttersREP