Beach Bites

BY Rachel Dickerson and Jim Pfeiffer

trusted land

The Abbey Nature Preserve is a treasure for nature and history lovers alike

The Abbey Nature Preserve located on U.S. Highway 17 North in Wilmington alongside Poplar Grove Historic Plantations charming 16-acre estate is a wonderful example of the diversity of the Azalea Coasts natural wonders. The jaunt begins with a sandy trail that leads into a forest. Before entering youll get an up-close look at many of the farm animals at the nearby livestock barns. Then you can discover unspoiled forests a former peanut field and flood plain wetlands called “bottomlands ” which include the 10-acre Mill Pond.

For many generations from 1795 until the mid-1970s the Foy family owned the land known today as Poplar Grove Plantation. The Foys who also own a considerable amount of land alongside the plantation began the process of placing 67 acres of it into the Coastal Land Trust in April 2006 and named it the Abbey Nature Preserve with the purpose of funding educational school programs birding and hiking in the area.

Upon opening two years ago the preserve was dedicated to the memory of Margaret Abbey Foy Moore. “It was one of Margarets dreams to have this type of nature setting available to the public to enjoy ” says Jeanne Walker public relations director for Poplar Grove Historic Plantation. “She passed from breast cancer in 2005 so the family wanted to preserve her memory and the land for future generations.”

Along the trail walkers will come across birds like the pileated woodpecker listen for its harmonious echoes the red-shouldered hawk and the peculiar junco. All of this is yours to experience along 2 1/2 miles of elevated and dry trails sandy roads and a footbridge with an observation deck that crosses Mill Pond. You can relax afterward and have lunch on one of Poplar Groves several picnic tables while enjoying the company of some friendly farm animals. Poplar “residents” include chickens sheep goats and Shetland Ponies.

The Abbey Nature Preserve is part of the North Carolina Birding Trail System and admission is free. The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. For more information call (910) 686-9518 ext. 22. Jim Pfeiffer

home team

Habitat for Humanity celebrates its 100th house

On September 6 Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity will break ground on its 100th house built in the community. For more than 20 years the generous and inspiring work of Cape Fear Habitat its partners and volunteers has helped to make dreams come true for fine folks like the Rojas family the soon-to-be new homeowners. Originally from Ecuador the Rojas clan Nelson Marta and their daughter Genesis started a new life here when Saint Andrew-Covenant Presbyterian Church offered to sponsor them. Like all other Habitat house recipients the Rojas family helped build homes for others and will also work on their new home. The church is also paying for the new house and supplying the volunteers. “Its an exciting time ” says Barbara Birkenheuer Cape Fear Habitat for Humanitys executive director. “The church didnt anticipate theyd also be sponsoring them in building their first house.” The construction site is part of Cottages at Cornerstone Cape Fear Habitats first subdivision located on Prices Lane. For more information call (910) 762-4744 or visit www.capefearhabitat.orgJim Pfeiffer

swim frenzy!

annual Pier-2-Pier Swim is sure to be a splash

The 4th annual Pier-2-Pier Swim Race hosted by the Cape Fear Aquatic Club and the Wilmington Family YMCA will take place at Wrightsville Beach on Saturday September 13. The race will cover 1.7 miles of open water between Johnnie Mercers and Crystal piers. If you are age 11 or older love to swim thirst for a new challenge or just want to beat your time from a previous year then this is the race for you!

“Weve seen the event grow from 80 swimmers in the first year to 170 in the second to more than 280 last year ” says David Sokolofsky director of competitive swimming for the Wilmington Family YMCA and head coach of the Cape Fear Aquatic Club. “Last year we raised $5 000 for our clubs competition fund which helps to pay for trips and equipment for our kids.”

First- through third-place individual awards will be given for several divisions which are organized according to age and sex. Also one first-place honor will be awarded in the team division. Members of collegiate YMCA USA and United States Masters swimming teams comprise the competing teams. The U.S. Coast Guard race marshals and Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue will be patrolling the beach and water to ensure its a fun and safe time for all.

The entrance fee is $35 and the online-registration deadline is September 4 at 9 p.m. All proceeds go to the Cape Fear Aquatic Clubs Competition Fund. For more information and to register visit . Jim Pfeiffer

treasure hunt

Art and antique walk

The best local and regional art and antiques will be paraded down Front Street from Orange to Walnut streets on Saturday September 6 at the 7th annual Art and Antique Walk in Historic Downtown Wilmington from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Closed to traffic and decorated with more than 20 booths this annual Port City gem features one-of-a-kind eclectic offerings of jewelry paintings photographs sculptures and antiques. There will also be an “Emerging Artist” area that focuses on new talented artists.

The goal of this event and its organizer the Downtown Business Alliance is to unite promote and support businesses downtown. “This unique event is about bringing people into our beautiful downtown ” says Chris Andrews vice president of the Downtown Business Alliance. This event continues to receive growing support bringing in more than 8 000 browsers and shoppers last year! Worried about parking downtown? Dont be. City parking decks will be free all day. For more information visit   or call Chris Andrews at (910) 251-0727. Jim Pfeiffer

tri and tri again

The 30th annual YMCA triathlon

On Saturday September 20 1 300 triathletes will gather to swim Banks Channel bike more than 12 miles and run throughout Wrightsville Beach. The 30th annual Wilmington YMCA Triathlon a USA Triathlon-sanctioned race is the 14th stop on the North Carolina Triathlon Series. A sprint-distance triathlon the race totals approximately 16 miles and is the oldest on the East Coast. It begins with a 1 500-meter swim (just under one mile) through Banks Channel starting at Blockade Runner and finishing at the Seapath Marina docks. Its a point-to-point swim meaning an incoming tide will help push the swimmers along making it seem more like 750 to 1 000 meters.

After the swim the bike ride begins with a 300-yard dash parallel to Causeway Drive. Participants will then grind it out over the drawbridge down Military Cutoff Road and Oleander Drive and all the way to Pine Grove Drive before heading back on Greenville Loop Road and back to Wrightsville for the home stretch.

The 5K run (more than 3 miles) begins on Causeway Drive goes downtown to North Lumina and Salisbury Street enters the run-the-loop final stretch ending near Town Hall.

Locals and out-of-towners alike will vie for individual and relay team honors but “just about everybodys from out of town Pennsylvania Texas you name it ” says Gray Lambeth special events coordinator for the Wilmington Family YMCA. “But the top two finishers have been locals with the record of 1:02 belonging to Michael Orton in 2004.”

This world-class community events net proceeds benefit the Wilmington Family YMCA. “With events like this were able to scholarship kids so they can go to camps ” says Lambeth. Though the event is fully registered there will be plenty of spots to soak in the sun and watch the swim bike or run! Theres also plenty of room for volunteers and sponsors to get involved. For more information to volunteer or become a sponsor call (910) 251-9622 ext. 224 or visit . Jim Pfeiffer

Whos behind the scenes of the YMCA Triathlon you ask? Wilmingtonian Bill Scott and his Set Up Events the nations most prolific producer of triathlons thats who. Started as a part-time venture when Scott moved to the Port City in 1984 Set Up will “set up” more than 70 triathlons and biathlons spanning six states from Washington D.C. to Georgia this year. Whether its planning and marketing an event assisting participants with tracking their training progress or supplying the most advanced race-day timing equipment is the place to be for triathlon organizers athletes and fans alike.

stroll in the park

Wrightsville Beach Strollathon

The 2nd annual Wrightsville Beach Strollathon will be held Saturday September 27 at Wrightsville Beach Park. There will be food and snacks an auction with plenty of antiques games and face painting and big blow-up bounce houses for the kids.

The Strollathon started by Shelley Mansfield in 2007 after her daughter Lauren Mansfield was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome is a short walk in the park in honor of children with this disorder. The event is called a “Strollathon” because Rett Syndrome is a rare disorder of neurodevelopmental arrest primarily affecting females which interferes with many aspects of development including motor skills and the ability to walk. Last year the event raised $90 000 of which 95 percent was given directly to research for the disorder. If you want to learn more about Rett Syndrome visit  For more information on the event call Michele Surratt at (910) 520-7353. Registration begins the day of the Strollathon at 8:45 a.m. and activities start at 9:00 a.m. —Rachel Dickerson

current events


19th Century Evening in Thalian Hall

Thalian Hall Mainstage

Theatre Exchange

September 11

The evening opener is a performance of John Madison Mortons 1847 classic British farce Box and Cox which first graced Thalian Hall 150 years ago. The evenings second act is a tribute to comedic opera legends William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Youre a Good Man Charlie Brown

Thalian Hall Mainstage

Opera House Theatre Company

September 5-7 and September 12-14

Kick back and laugh as the Opera House Theatre Company brings this family-friendly classic to life. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.

Tickets for all presentations can be purchased at the Thalian Hall Center Box Office 310 Chestnut Street (910) 343-3663.


Brown Coat Pub and Theatre

Guerilla Theatre Presents

September 18-21 and 25-27

Take a jaunt back to the good old days of the 1990s with the presentation of Eric Bogosians satirical yet poignant portrayal of growing up in 1990s suburban America.

All performances begin at 8 p.m. except for Sunday matinees which are at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting  For more information call (910) 233-9914.

The Miss Firecracker Contest

SRO Theatre in UNCWs Cultural Arts Building

UNCW Department of Theatre

September 25-28

UNCW blasts off its theatre season with the presentation of this gem written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley. This comedy set in a small Mississippi town is the story of a young woman who desperately desires to win the local beauty pageant for all the wrong reasons.

For all performance times and to purchase tickets visit UNCWs Kenan Auditorium Box Office or call (910) 962-3500.

Area Concerts

If Beethoven doesnt take your breath away perhaps some a cappella is the cure?

Wilmington Symphony Orchestras Beethoven Bicentennial

Location: UNCWs Kenan Auditorium

Time: September 20 at 8 p.m.

Info: Celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Beethovens Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra part of UNCWs “Arts in Action Performance Series” and another example of our communitys commitment to excellence in the arts.

Cost: Tickets are $20-$22 for adults $4 for kids age 17 and under.

Parking: Abundant free parking is available on site and throughout the campus.

Contact: (910) 962-3500

Chapter 6

Location: UNCWs Kenan Auditorium

Time: September 29 at 8 p.m.

Info: Chapter 6 is an internationally renowned seven-piece ensemble featuring a unique blend of pop and jazz complementing light hearted and inspirational lyrics. From colleges and opera houses to high schools and churches they perform covers ranging from Gershwin to Stevie Wonder and perform many original tunes as well. They have sold over 35 000 self-distributed albums and performed at The Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra.

Cost: Tickets are $20 for adults $6 for UNCW students and $8 for children.

Parking: Abundant free parking is available on site and throughout the campus.

Contact: (910) 962-3500

Airlie Concert Series dances into September

Airlie Gardens beauty and cultural importance make it one of the must-see attractions on the Azalea Coast the place to go if you enjoy leisurely and scenic strolls through acres and acres of pristine gardens. Airlie is home to more than 100 000 luminous azaleas diverse wildlife freshwater lakes and historic structures and is surrounded by the Bradley Creek ecosystem. These great gardens will sway with more than just the summer breeze as the Airlie Concert Series moves and shakes to the end of another successful season.

On Friday September 5 from 6-8 p.m. enjoy the soothing and harmonious sounds of internationally-acclaimed jazz artists Stephanie Nakasian and the Hod OBrien Trio. Nakasians singing career spans three decades while OBriens prolific jazz pianist legacy dates back to the height of the 1950s Bop era.

Try a change of pace on Friday September 19 from 6-8 p.m. with the harmonious doo-wop sounds of the Aquatones. The four-piece group began its journey in 1956 as the Rhythm Kings and after changing their name to the Aquatones released the hit You which rose to the top 40 charts in 1958. They reformed in the late 1990s with a new vocalist and now play a mix of their classics as well as new numbers.

On October 3 from 6-8 p.m. the Airlie Concert Series finishes on a high note with the foot-tapping jazzy rhythms of the Bob Russell Quartet.

All concerts are $8 for adults $2 for kids and free to Airlie members. For more information call (910) 798-7700 or visit  Jim Pfeiffer

Secret Garden Tour

On Friday and Saturday September 19 and 20 the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society once again invites you to stir your senses at the unveiling of the 5th annual Secret Garden Tour. Expect ample oohing and aahing as an all-new lineup of premier private gardens throughout Historic Downtown Wilmington open their gates and reveal their secrets. Secret Garden tour-goers will again be dazzled at how these beautifully restored homes accentuate and blend with their blissful gardens gaining from site to site an even deeper appreciation for the refined charm of Old Wilmington.

Were featuring gardens with some absolutely beautiful water features this year says Candace McGreevy executive director of The Lower Cape Fear Historical Society (LCFHS). This nonprofit organization founded in 1956 is dedicated to preserving and restoring historic sites and buildings such as the Latimer House and sharing their efforts through exhibits and special occasions.

This special community event along with others run by the LCFHS relies heavily on the work of volunteers. From the repairing and upkeep of the houses to planning and caring for the lush gardens it wouldnt be possible without the selflessness of the community.

This event started with a team of volunteers at the Latimer House getting together with Jeanie Lessing a volunteer for many years directing the group says McGreevy. They banded together specifically to help raise money for their gardens.

The tour begins at the Latimer House and stretches from Market to Church streets all the way to Sixth Street. Tickets are $15 through September 5 and $18 after that and are available at the Latimer House The Transplanted Garden Barnes and Noble Lous Flower Patch Curb Appeal in Southport and The House of Wine and Cheese in Leland.

Take a break from the tour with the Garden Tour Bag Lunch. For just $6 treat yourself to a relaxing lunch supplied by Jesters Java in Latimer Houses Tabithas Tea Room or in their gardens. Place your order by September 5. For more information and to pre-order lunch call (910) 762-0492 or visit Jim Pfeiffer

What a catch!

2nd annual Masonboro District Boy Scout Flounder Tournament

Put your fishing face on for the 2nd annual Boy Scouts of America Masonboro District Flounder Tournament to be held on Saturday September 13 at the Bridge Tender Marina in Wrightsville Beach. The Masonboro District of the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts of America the events host and beneficiary will award the first-place prize a percentage of the proceeds to the team who snags the heaviest flounder longer than 15 inches. Partial proceeds are also up for grabs to the second- and third-place finishers with fourth- to tenth-place merchandise prizes available as well.

This friendly competition is about supporting the local scouting program which continues to give back to the community. All we raise goes back to the community in some way says tournament chairman Doug Dameron.

Last years tournament featured 14 boats and this year the bar has been raised to 30. Additionally teams of up to four anglers per boat registered for the tournament may enter into a tournament within a tournament (TWT) or a Calcutta tourney lingo for a TWT. The TWT fee is $25 and the team that lands the catch of the day takes home the entire pot. The main tournament entry fee is $100 per team. But if your fishing skills are lacking or rusty theres ample room to get involved by being a gold silver or bronze sponsor.

Throw your lure into the water at the Captains Meeting on September 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at West Marine located on Eastwood Road in Wilmington. For more information to register early or to learn about becoming a sponsor call Doug Dameron at (910) 509-1108. Jim Pfeiffer

Dogs just want to have fun

Its a dogs life at the 9th Annual Wilmington Dog Jog

The dogs will be barking and jogging and swimming at the 9th Annual Wilmington Dog Jog to be held at Legion Stadium and the stadium pool on Carolina Beach Road on September 6. This tail-wagging good time benefits the Pender County Humane Society and includes a 1.5 mile fun walk a 5K run for the owners and the show stealer: the Pooch Plunge! Both the walk and the runs course meander through nearby Greenfield Lake Park.

For the first few years the dogs also ran but they would often overheat says Tammy Skinner special events coordinator for the City of Wilmingtons Parks Recreation and Downtown Services Division the events host. So the onsite veterinarians recommended just doing the walk and the plunge. The event opens at 8 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. Any concerned parents neednt worry: There wont be any judges scrutinizing your furry friends diving and swimming skills. This day is all about your pet having fun while working up a pant then cooling off with a nice relaxing doggie paddle.

Additionally there will be some fabulous door prizes for humans and canines alike from health spa products to dog food. Refreshments and food will be available along with a free t-shirt for all participants. This year an added perk included with registration is the pooch pool pass which allows you to bring your pet back to the pool during the following week from 4-8 p.m. for a free swim! The fee is $25 and walk-up registration is available. For more information call (910) 341-4602 or visit Jim Pfeiffer

Good Shepherd Green Party

Good Shepherd Center celebrates 25 years of giving by going green

On Saturday September 6 Good Shepherd Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary by hosting an auction to benefit its tireless work for our communitys less fortunate. The event will take place at Watermark Marina and Yacht Club of Wilmington. Auction prizes include trips and items with the theme of going green in our everyday lives. Guests will dine on fabulous food from area restaurants while taking in the Watermarks riverfront setting and the live music of Kennedy Park.

The Good Shepherd Center originally a soup kitchen provides services including shelter for homeless and low-income guests veteran housing assistance and a food collection program called Second Helpings that delivers approximately 400 tons of food a year to those in need. Additionally their soup kitchen serves more than 100 000 hot meals each year to the hungry.

Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at Good Shepherd Center located at 811 Martin Street in Wilmington. For more information or to become a sponsor call (910) 763-4424 ext. 113. Jim Pfeiffer

Blast into the past literally!


The Battleship North Carolina comes alive for a day of living history


Witness history come to life on September 27 when the Battleship North Carolina will be fully engaged from bow to stern with World War II living history interpreters. At the semi-annual Battleship Alive event the Living History Crew will display what it was like to be a sailor on the USS North Carolina by performing the very same drills and duties done on-board more than 60 years ago. Its an opportunity to learn about the crucial role the Battleship played in the Allied effort and see what went into the all-important daily preparation and upkeep of the massive vessel. From morning colors and keeping the boilers and turbines operating smoothly to sorting mail at the post office and monitoring radar in the Combat Information Center no area or detail will be neglected.


When people hit a given station the crew will be totally in character says Monique Baker programs coordinator for the Battleship North Carolina. There will also be crew members working on restoring 20mm guns for all to see.


Many other ship areas will be on display including the sick bay the navigation bridge where the crew steered the ship and the Marine compartment where USMC crew members bunked down.


The entire crew is made up of local volunteers who also donate their time to other volunteer efforts like civil war interpreting. These men and women take great pride in this event and they are just a sampling of the diversity and kindness in our community adds Baker.


Dont forget to visit the Roll of Honor Memorial which inscribes the names of the more than 10 000 North Carolinians from all of the armed forces branches who sacrificed their lives during World War II. The memorial is stationed in the Battleships Wardroom located on the main deck. The Battleship North Carolina is the states official World War II memorial. The events hours are from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the admission fee is $12 for adults $6 for kids age 6-11. Children 5 and under can climb aboard for free. For more information call (910) 251-5797 or visit . Jim Pfeiffer