Geocachers Jackie Laminack (from left), of Belleville, Illinois; Nina Dean, of O’Fallon, Missouri; A.J. Laminack; and Hunter Laminack exchange information at the 2018 Going Caching event in Ridge Ferry Park. This weekend, many of the participants will be decked out in their best Pirate Party gear.

Rome will be the headquarters for pirates from across the country and around the world who are hunting hidden treasures in Rome through the weekend. “Message in a Bottle” is the pirate-related theme for the Going Caching 2019 mega-event that is expected to draw close to 1,000 geocachers to Rome.

Local river historian Dennis Nordeman frequently tells guests aboard the Roman Holiday tour boat about piracy on the Coosa River during the heyday of steamboat traffic. Thursday night, new millennium pirates will parade up Broad Street from the Town Green to City Hall, led by Geocaching HQ President Bryan Roth from Seattle, Washington, the grand marshal for the event this year.

Andi Beyer, one of the local organizers, said that people have registered from as far away as Finland and Puerto Rico.

“It’s a family-friendly activity that anybody can do,” Beyer said. “As humans we’re all hunter-gatherers, so hunting for something is great.” Beyer said that when people participate in such an event they often see parts of a community they might otherwise not be exposed to.

Last year over 1,400 people attended the event in Rome and organizers are hoping for even more this year. The sanctioning national organization has indicated the Rome event is one of the three largest geocaching events in the U.S.

This year, participants were given the opportunity to register for one of seven different pirate crews: Sea Devil, Crustacean, Cosa Nostra, Racketeer, Soggy Bottom, Epidemic and Bel Air, which will compete for the Most Fearsome Ship by finding the most caches, solving the most riddles and challenges for points.

This year, the main event takes place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Ridge Ferry Park, where volunteers under the direction of local organizers Beyer and Jim Williamson have built a treasure maze on the stage of the bandstand.

The stage at Ridge Ferry Park will be the setting for a big show Friday night and following the day-long activities Saturday, there will be a costume ball for the geocachers at the Forum River Center.

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