Beach Bites

BY Emily Brown Kelly Esposito Richard Leder Cory Mac Pherson and Jim Pfeiffer

time to shine

North Carolina Holiday Flotilla celebrates 25 years

Happy 25th Anniversary North Carolina Holiday Flotilla! Youve come a long way since 1983 when Wrightsville Beach first hosted a quaint lighted boat parade around the Intracoastal Waterway. Now drawing an estimated 50 000 visitors to the Azalea Coast each November you have become one of the most extravagant events in the Southeast. Your silver anniversary celebration held Friday November 28 and Saturday November 29 promises to be even more exciting than those in the past.

The illuminated boat parade is always the pinnacle of the weekend-long North Carolina Holiday Flotilla celebration. At 6 p.m. on Saturday vessels decked out in twinkling lights will begin their cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway continue through Motts Channel along South Harbor Island to the bridge then pass by the judges station on Banks Channel in front of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and Hotel Conference Center and finish at the Coast Guard Station. From the tiniest sailboats to the largest commercial yachts participants will creatively convey their holiday spirit to spectators. This years grand prize is a seven-night stay at a Vista Mar condo in Jaco Beach Costa Rica. An awards ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday November 30 at the Blockade Runner for boat captains and their crews.

Just as exciting as the boat parade are the time-honored traditions that precede it. On Friday at 5:45 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall for the new and popular tree lighting ceremony. This event is free and open to the public.

After the tree lighting ceremony a mandatory boat captains meeting will take place at the Blockade Runner. Once business is taken care of boat captains and other guests can let loose at the Flotilla Holiday Party. The event will include an appearance by both Miss and Mrs. North Carolina and guests will dance the night away to tunes provided by Liquid Pleasure.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday the annual Festival in the Park will take place at Wrightsville Beach Park. An exciting event for all ages the festival will include food arts and crafts vendors performing artists childrens rides and an antique car show. The pageant queens will again make their appearance as will professional baseball player and former New Hanover High star Trot Nixon.

As the Festival in the Park comes to a close thousands will flock to decks docks shores porches piers and patios so that they may reserve prime viewing spots for the Flotilla Parade. A dazzling display of pyrotechnics will be presented over the water making for a colorful evening as spectators cheer for their favorite displays of holiday spirit. Holiday Flotilla co-chair Linda Brown is enthusiastic about this years celebration. “Were planning to make it a truly memorable event ” Brown says. With so many entertaining activities planned its hard not to believe her.

All money raised from the Flotilla goes to local charities and to beach renourishment and beautification projects. For more information and to purchase tickets for the Flotilla Holiday Party visit . Emily Brown

Schedule of Events

Saturday November 15
9 a.m. Celebration 5K Run/Loop Walk starts at Wrightsville Beach Town Park. Registration by November 13.

Friday November 28
5:45 p.m. Tree Lighting ceremony at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall
7 p.m. Flotilla Captains Party at Blockade Runner

Saturday November 29
10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Festival in the Park at Wrightsville Beach Park
6 p.m. 25th annual Illuminated Boat Parade and fireworks

eyes all aglow

Enchanted Airlie Returns

Its time to bundle up go outside and feel the warmth and wonderment of Airlie Gardens annual holiday light show. Complete with whimsical holiday flowers illuminated trees live music an impressive model train collection and Santa Claus its no wonder many families have made Enchanted Airlie a seasonal tradition. Airlie Gardens started their wonderful holiday light show celebration in 2005 and it has continued to grow each year. Jim McDaniel director of Airlie Gardens says its a great opportunity for the “family to get out of their normal life and spend time outdoors.” Enchanted Airlie lights up on November 28 and runs each Friday and Saturday two showings per night: 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. until December 20. Tickets are $5 for adults $4 for children or $20 per carload. Call (910)798-7700 for more information or visit Cory Mac Pherson

turkey trot

Benefiting Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity

Permission to be a turkey? Granted. Start this Thanksgiving on the right foot: Join Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity for the fourth annual Turkey Trot at the John Nesbitt Loop at Wrightsville Beach. The 2.4-mile run and the 1-mile Gobbler Family Fun Walk begin at 8 a.m. (registration at 7:30 a.m.) on Thanksgiving Day Thursday November 27 at Wrightsville Beach Park. Tickets are $15 before November 11 $20 after. Kids under the age of 10 will be admitted free of charge. The money will benefit Cape Fear Habitat for Humanitys efforts to build homes for low-income families. For more information visit or call Kitty Yerkes at (910) 762-4744. Cory Mac Pherson

get up and go

Will Allison helps make the best of small surf

Legendary local surfer and boardmaker Will Allison an inductee in the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame knows the true test of any great wave rider is his or her ability to cope with the dreaded handicap of small surf. Allison has some advice for fellow Eastern Seaboard surfers who struggle with small waves.


The type of board you select plays a huge part in how much fun you can have. When faced with the prospect of riding tiny surf volume is your friend. If its really small and powerless a longboard or a wide thick funboard should give you the volume necessary to catch and ride whatever is out there.


Boards with flat rockers make catching waves easier and can be extremely fast but maneuverability is severely limited. Also a board with too much rocker really reduces the forward momentum and sometimes poses a problem when catching waves. Youre best off riding a board that has a subtle combination of both.


As the wave of your dream approaches grasp the rails of the board near the nose and rock back to sink the tail of your board as far as it will go. Then when it starts to pop back out take a couple of powerful strokes and youre off. This gives you a little boost to get things started and a little more momentum to set up your first maneuver.


Once you get going its good to try to stay in the top third of the wave. This is where most of the waves power is and it enables you to be in a position to drop down to the bottom to gather enough speed to resume your position again.


Sometimes it also helps to spread out your stance. This transfers your weight over a bigger area of your board so you can glide over the slow parts. Keeping your knees bent a little helps you hold your balance and make the little transitions a bit more comfortable. I try to crouch while dropping down the face and then stand up and extend my body out of the bottom turn. Then I go back into a semi-crouch at the top of the wave and get ready to do it again hopefully on into the next section.


When cutting back try turning your head to face in the direction you want to go. Then your body will naturally follow. The head is the heaviest part of the body so it helps the flow of things. Plus you can see where you are going a bit easier. Maybe you can even spot the guy you inadvertently dropped in on and avoid a collision.


Try to keep a good attitude it really helps your surfing and makes the day a lot more pleasant for everyone. Above all have fun.

screening room

Cucalorus Film Festival

In 1994 a group of local filmmakers came together on Water Street in Historic Downtown Wilmington for a one-night-only showing of films they had produced. There was a line of fans extended around the block waiting to watch the films. Since then Cucalorus has grown into a four-day festival that screens over 150 documentaries features and short films from all over the world. Festival director Dan Brawley says that the non-competitive festival takes the focus off the “glitz and glam of Hollywood ” and puts the spotlight on the filmmakers.

The buzz this year is about a new program called Works-in-Progress which showcases five different projects in different stages of development. The filmmakers will discuss financing script rewrites casting and their strategies for production and distribution while getting feedback from other filmmakers to help with their decision-making process. Expected to be a great learning experience for young filmmakers as well Works-in-Progress is the perfect addition to Cucalorus a film festival dedicated to collaboration creativity and sharing stories. Its a “unique moment on the film festival circuit ” Brawley explains and it happens right here in our own backyard.

The event kicks off on November 12 with Dance-a-lorus and will continue until November 15 with screenings at Jengos Playhouse Thalian Hall and Lumina Theater. For ticket information call (910)-353-5995 or visit Cory Mac Pherson

paddle faster

Fifth Annual Wrightsville Beach Sea Kayak Race

Ladies and gentlemen start your paddles. On Saturday November 8 both Salt Marsh Kayak and the Great Outdoor Provision Co. will sponsor the fifth annual Wrightsville Beach Sea Kayak Race. The event begins at 1 p.m. at the Salt Marsh Kayak company rental facility located directly across from the Blockade Runner Beach Resort & Conference Center. Racers will kayak down the scenic Intracoastal Waterway and will loop back to the starting line.

In past years 50-80 participants have braved the salt marsh for a good cause (more on that in a moment). The fun isnt just for experts all ages and skill levels are welcome. Though the 6-mile main event is for intermediate to advanced kayakers there is a 3-mile fun race for novice sportsmen and a 200-meter sprint for kids under the age of 12. Lydia Fonvielle race coordinator encourages children to participate noting that they contribute to the festival-like atmosphere of the event. “The kids race is only a short sprint but everyone always has so much fun watching it ” says Fonvielle.

Last year more than $4 000 in merchandise and gear were awarded to the winners. If that isnt incentive enough for entering consider this: Proceeds from the event go to The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust a nonprofit organization created to protect valuable natural areas and waters both locally and regionally.

Whether youre proficient in paddling or just want to get your feet wet this years race is a great opportunity for a laid-back adventure benefiting a great cause. Register online at  or call (910) 509-2989 for more information. Emily Brown

local theater

The Nutcracker

Thalian Hall Main Stage

November 21 22 & 23

November pop quiz: What do you call a production that includes more than 75 dancers and actors from the Wilmington area as well as jellyfish seahorses butterflies an octopus rat king snow flowers toys dancing seahorses and butterflies? You call it The Nutcracker performed at Thalian Hall by The Wilmington Ballet Company featuring professionals from the Louisville Ballet Company. Performances will be on Friday and Saturday November 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday November 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the Thalian Hall box office. Call (910) 343-3664 or go to  to order online.


Southern Fried Chicks

Thalian Hall Main Stage

November 8

Looking for laughs? National comedian Etta May and her crew offer four interpretations of Southern female humor. With topics ranging from being a domestic goddess to being the blonde with the biggest hair in the room the performance is sure to be a good time. There will be two shows: 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets for all presentations can be purchased at the Thalian Hall Center Box Office 310 Chestnut Street (910) 343-3664.


Rock and Roll Gods

Brown Coat Pub and Theatre

Guerilla Theatre Presents

November 13-16 and November 20-23

Part of the Season of New Voices series John Grudzien brings to life an intriguing story about a band and the difficulties that come along with rock and roll stardom. All shows begin at 8 p.m. For more information call (910) 233-9914. Cory Mac Pherson

on your mark

Battleship NC Half Marathon and 5K

Shoes laced? Check. Timing chip in place? Check. Muscles stretched and loose? Check.

On Sunday November 9 the above questions will be on the minds of more than 1 300 runners as they prepare for the 10th annual Battleship North Carolina Half Marathon and 5K. Runners from all over the country will gather at the battleship to test their strength and endurance in Historic Downtown Wilmington.

The half marathon sponsored by Carolina Sports Medicine will begin at 8 a.m. and the 5K sponsored by Bay Six USA will kick off shortly thereafter. The half marathon course is truly picturesque. Participants begin their run at the base of the battleship cross two bridges that span the Cape Fear River the Memorial Bridge and the Isabel Holmes Bridge and continue through the historic downtown area. The athletes tour scenic Greenfield Lake before finishing the race at the battleship.

Proceeds from the event go to the Battleship Restoration Fund Wilmington Family YMCA The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and other local charities. This years race is dedicated to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the men who served on the Battleship North Carolina. Awards will be given in multiple age groups and categories for both the half marathon and 5K. Omega Sports and New Balance of Wilmington will award running shoes to the winners.

Runners can register online at For more information contact Ed Fore at (910) 398-5539 or email him at [email protected].    Emily Brown

open sesame

A behind-the-scenes look at drawbridge operations

The bridge is up. Those four little words can foster frustration in the hearts of locals and tourists alike as fast as any four words you can string together. The Heide Trask drawbridge delay that follows can wreak havoc on a maxed-out schedule.

But wait dont we live at the beach? Maybe its time for an attitude adjustment. Maybe we need to kick back relax and give the bridge a break. How so you ask? By learning a little about what goes on behind the scenes.

Troy Shepard is a bridge operator the mysterious person inside the little green bridge house in charge of the lifting and lowering. Shepard and three bridge tenders rotate shifts to man the bridge 24 hours a day all year long. Shepard has been working at the Heide Trask drawbridge for 10 years. He started out as a relief operator with the concurrent duty of keeping the bridge well greased. After six years he became a full-time bridge operator.

Shepards typical day varies quite a bit depending on the time of year. During the summer months when the bridge is busiest its not unusual for him to have to open the bridge every hour for pleasure crafts and even more often for commercial vessels. For May 2008 alone the log book that lists the names of boats the bridge opens for was nearly an inch thick!

The bridge is scheduled to open every hour on the hour if there are regular Joes passing through but it can be opened at any time on demand for commercial vessels. The procedure for opening the bridge is more complicated than the average frustrated driver biker or pedestrian may think. First the bridge operator signals to waiting boats with a siren that hes going to open the bridge. Then the warning red lights are turned on to stop traffic and the gates are lowered on either side of the bridge. Another siren signals the actual opening of the bridge. After all the boats pass through the same process happens in reverse.

Although the job of the bridge operator may seem a tad repetitive it is by no means uneventful. Shepard says he sometimes encounters “difficult” drivers bikers pedestrians and boaters who dont understand how the bridge operates and are unhappy with the delay it causes them. “The thing they need to remember though is that they are not in command I am ” says Shepard.

Sometimes there is more action than mere disgruntled beachgoers can provide. In September 2007 a sailor did not have the serene trip through the bridge that he expected. Due to a blind spot on the west side the bridges two 800 000-ton (1.6 million pounds!) spans came down on the mast of the vessel Marijke IV snapping it in two. Vessels that underestimated their height or width have also caused damage. One boat realized too late that it was too tall backing out and taking out one of the dolphin systems the clusters of pilings that flank the bridge on each side.

Whether its a slow day at WB or a the-bridge-is-up-every-hour day remember that theres more to the Heide Trask drawbridge than meets the eye. Troy Shepard could very well be in the green booth and he wants nothing more than to lower the bridge and get you on your way. So the next time you sail under or drive bike or walk over or even if dang youre stuck waiting be sure to give Troy and the other bridge operators a wave. After all its up to them to keep WBs only connection to the mainland running smoothly. Kelly Esposito

global art

Sixth International Artist Colony

NO BOUNDARIES INC. a nonprofit artist colony based out of Wilmington will host its sixth International Artist Colony the first two weeks of November. Artists from nine different countries including Brazil Ghana Spain The Netherlands Germany Macedonia Italy England and France will gather with local artists to share ideas and cultures as they create unique art on Bald Head Island.

On November 8 from 1-4 p.m. at Captain Charlies Station three renovated historic oceanfront keeper cottages on Bald Head Island and on Saturday November 15 6-9 p.m. at the ACME Art Studios located at 711 N. Fifth Avenue in Historic Downtown Wilmington everyone has the opportunity to see how artists from all over the world have “captured the light” right here on the Azalea Coast. There will be an artist reception on November 8 at The Woods Gallery 12A Maritime Way on Bald Head Island from 5-7 p.m.

Gayle Tustin the events director says the atmosphere of Bald Head Island is conducive for artists because of the areas natural light. “You dont have light like this everywhere. The light in Wilmington is gorgeous.” The artists are housed on an area of the island called “The Point.” Here the Cape Fear River meets the ocean and the artists witness sunrises and sunsets unlike any others. The worldly collaboration of various aesthetics helps the artists create amazing art while crossing cultural boundaries. Talk about inspiration.

Art created by members of NO BOUNDARIES INC. has been displayed in the Randall Library at UNCW Bottega Art Gallery and other museums and galleries across the state of North Carolina. For more information about NO BOUNDARIES INC. or the sixth International Artist Colony contact Gayle Tustin at (910) 392-4408 or email her at [email protected]. Emily Brown