ZEPHYRHILLS — Danny Burgess said “Ahrrr” as he sat down at Monday evening’s city council meeting.
It wasn’t clear if the Zephyrhills mayor was getting into character — he was wearing Pasco High School’s mascot’s costume: a pirate — or lamenting his predicament. Or both.
Burgess was paying a debt owed to Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez after the Zephyrhills High Bulldogs lost to the Pasco High Pirates in the schools’ annual football rivalry called the 9-Mile War.
It is about nine miles between Zephyrhills High and Pasco High, which is in Dade City.
Before this year’s game on Nov. 1, Burgess called Hernandez and suggested a friendly wager on the outcome of the game. Hernandez accepted the challenge: The losing team’s respective mayor would wear the mascot costume of the winning school to the next city council or city commission meeting.
“Anytime; I’m always up for a challenge,” said Hernandez.
“I told them to make sure the pirate costume is really nice and make sure Danny fits into it so he can come and visit us,” Hernandez said before the game.
Burgess, not to be out smack-talked, said: “While she is being very nice to get the Pirate mascot costume ready, I told the cheerleaders to work our mascot extra hard … so it will be nice and sweaty.”
The Pirates won the game 24-16.
Burgess followed through with his promise, and Hernandez was there to observe his fulfillment of the terms of their wager.
As the mayors shook hands and posed for photographs, Burgess said, “This is what community is all about. Dade City and Zephyrhills have a long history of friendly rivalry. We’re in this together in east Pasco, and I think this is wonderful example of that.”
“You’re right about our communities,” Hernandez said. “It’s a pleasure to be here and working together. Thank you for being a great sport. It’s a great thing and it’s a wonderful example for our young people.”
Burgess then summoned Dr. Xombie (Roger Boyes) and his “fiends,” who also were in costume, to read a letter of thanks to the group, who, until a few weeks ago, had volunteered to bring horror films and other genre of movies to the Home Theater on Main Street to bring attention to the theatre and inspire preservation efforts.
“Over the past year your team has brought our home theater back from the dead,” Burgess read. “From the monthly Friday Night Frights where you aired everybody’s favorite classic scary movies to turning our town upside-down at this year’s Halloween Howl with a theme to remember, ‘Zephyrkills, City of Pure Terror,’ your team exemplifies the very definition of volunteerism and citizenship.”
Burgess read with difficulty because the Pirate’s costume did not supply him a lot of air, but he finished by saying, “The city of Zephyrhills is grateful for all you do and proud to proclaim ‘Dr Xombie and Fiends’ as one of our own.”
Dr. Xombie appeared confused. He said the group had come to City Hall to pay their water bill and couldn’t stay because they all work the graveyard shift.
Burgess had intended to wear the pirate mascot’s uniform for the entire meeting, but the stuffiness of the costume moved him to take it off once he returned to the dais. “The pirate’s life is not for me,” he said.
“I have a newfound respect for all mascots. Donning the pirate costume was not easy,” Burgess said the next day. “I will always be a Bulldog at heart, but in all honesty, it was a lot of fun.”