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Buccaneer Commission Records

Identifier: Coll-157
The Buccaneer Commission records include administrative records pertaining to the history of the celebration, awards, projects, thousands of photographs, slides, negatives, film, artifacts, and newspaper clippings. The Buccaneer Day Celebration evolved and grew from a swimsuit pageant in 1917 into a huge ten-day festival of fun events for the city of Corpus Christi by the late 1900s.


  • 1938-2006

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to


23 Linear Feet


The Buccaneer Commission Records reflect the events of the organization’s yearly historical celebration of pirates capturing the city for three days of fun. The celebration includes a festival, parade, rodeo, and carnival.

Biographical / Historical

The Buccaneer Days celebration began as a swimsuit pageant in 1917 called Splash Days. A bathing beauty contest was set to kick off the summer swimming season was held specifically on North Beach. Several prizes were awarded for various categories in swimwear and contestants such as “most patriotic.” In 1938 the city decided to move towards a citywide celebration with an exciting pirate theme and changed the festival to what is now known as Buccaneer Days.

The celebration was a three-day event in early June that was formed to signify the beginning of summertime much like Splash Days had done. Modeled after the Charro Days celebration in Brownsville, this new event sought to liven the city through its historical connection with pirates. The myth is that after receiving a presidential pardon in 1821 the French pirate and privateer Jean Lafitte moved to the Corpus Christi area. While there is evidence of him visiting the area and establishing a base there is very little evidence for his residency and many believe he died in 1823 during a battle with Spanish ships near the Gulf of Honduras. Buccaneer Days was constructed by the Beach Association and was envisioned as pirates capturing the city for three days of fun. Parades, bathing suit revues, and revelry were the central activities for the event. Prominent area men would grow out their beards to mimic the pirate fashion to join in the fun. Another historical figure that the event used as symbolism of the area’s past is Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. Álvarez de Pineda was a Spanish explorer who was credited with naming the Corpus Christi Bay in 1519. The Spanish explorer’s likeness was used as a Grand Marshall for the event which kicked off with a parade down water street.

Throughout the years many events have been added or edited to create a unique event, from boat races and swimming and diving competitions to fishing tournaments and a barbecue cook-off. In 1947 the parade switched to a nighttime event and the first illuminated night parade was held. This has become the signature event for the celebration. Another key addition in 1947 was the formation of the Bucaraders organization. This organization became the official organizers and parade officials for the Buc Days Commission. In 1949 the Buc Days carnival began and has become a staple especially for the children. The dates for the celebration also shifted in 1949 to the early May/Late April time that is still used today. In 1954 at the request of the Civitan Club the Las Doñas de la Corte began a coronation pageant that was modeled after the royal court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Again, homage to Alonso Álvarez de Pineda was given by naming the King after him. This event was created to promote the Buccaneer Days festivities throughout the state as well as garner sponsorship opportunities. In 1961 a junior parade was added for the younger participants that centralized several smaller parades. To expand the scope and enliven the festival the Buc Days Pro Rodeo began in 1992. In 1996 the Buc Days Commission began awarding college scholarships to the Pirate Kings and Queens.

The festival is held every year for 10 days in late April and early May in Corpus Christi Texas. Over 100,000 people attend the various components of the festival. The central events are parades, carnivals, pageants, concerts, and the rodeo. The Bucaraders still aid in running the parade as well as other events throughout the year. The Buccaneer Commission seeks to help the community through educational and cultural events as well as entertainment. They seek to contribute to the community through charity and scholarships through the tradition of Buccaneer Days.


The records are divided into eight series: Series I: Administrative Records Sub-Series: History and Proclamations Sub-Series: Correspondence Sub-Series: Awards Sub-Series: Events and Projects Sub-Series: Printed materials Series II: Photographs Sub-Series: Photographs arranged by year Sub-Series: Photographs arranged by subject Series III: Slides Series IV: Negatives and Proofs Series V: Film and Media Series VI: Posters and promotional Materials Sub-Series: Posters Sub-Series: Promotional Materials Series VII: Artifacts Series VIII: Newspaper Clippings

Related Materials


Processing Information

Lori Atkins and Amanda Kowalski organized the materials and created the finding aid in march of 2021.


Guide to the Buccaneer Commission Records
Lori Atkins and Amanda Kowalski
March 2021
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-5973 (Fax)