Beach Bites

BY Staff

Money doesn’t grow on trees… but it does grow in the ocean!

They may not fit into a vending machine or fold nicely in your wallet but ask any kid (and plenty of grownups) what currency counts at the beach and the answer you’ll get as often as not is … sand dollars.

Belonging to the phylum Echinodermata to the class Echinoidea and to the order Clypeastroida sand dollars are closely related to sea urchins and sea stars. Like other members of its class the sand dollar is radially symmetrical. It has a rigid flattened disk-shaped shell or test made of firmly joined plates that lie just beneath its skin and is found in abundance on the sandy bottom of deeper waters on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. While alive sand dollars are covered with tiny spines that are used for locomotion and more. “They use their many small spines and tube foot to feed on small particles of organic material including bacteria microalgae and detritus ” says UNCW biology and marine biology professor Dr. Lawrence Cahoon.

When they’re not grazing for food sand dollars spend most of their time buried in the sand for protection. The hard white medallion we find on the beach is the test of the once-living creature. UNCW biological oceanography professor Dr. Christopher Finelli says “The reason we don’t see [sand dollars] alive on the beach is because they live farther off shore farther out than most people will venture.” So how old is that sand dollar you’re holding in your hand? It’s hard to tell. Because of their ability to grow and shrink according to the availability of food and resources it’s difficult to gauge their age. Regardless of their size however once found (usually with oohs and aahs and no small amount of glee) these treasures are a great keepsake from any walk on the beach. —Patricia Brown

Cape Fear Red Trout Celebrity Classic

Looking for a fun way to get involved in a great cause? Fancy yourself a fisherman? Then the Cape Fear Red Trout Celebrity Classic is the perfect event for you. This catch-and-release fishing tournament features celebrities and professionals fishing for red drum and speckled trout to raise funds in support of cystic fibrosis research. The event takes place October 15-17 at the Figure Eight Island Yacht Club. The public is encouraged to purchase tickets for tournament events including the opening dinner where a silent auction offers the chance to win some excellent prizes. “It combines a great fundraising cause with a great sport!” says committee co-chair Pete Baxley. To find out how you can get involved or for information on tickets and events visit
—Patricia Brown

Airlie Gardens’ Low Country Oyster Roast

Just when you were asking When-oh-when will I be able to enjoy the most amazing peck of oysters anywhere? Airlie Gardens has the answer. On Friday October 16 Airlie will host its wildly popular ninth annual Low Country Oyster Roast. Steamed oysters and all-you-can-eat Carolina-style barbecue mark this event as one of October’s tastiest. As always the incredible food will be accompanied by live music — The Imitations have everyone up and dancing all night long — and all proceeds from the event help fund Airlie Gardens’ Environmental Education Program.

Jim McDaniel director of Airlie Gardens hopes to once again sell every ticket for what he playfully calls the “funnest party in Wilmington.” Bring the family shuck a few buckets dance to the music and best of all support local environmental education.

The oyster roast runs from 6-11 p.m. and tickets are $75 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets online visit or call (910) 798-7700. — Ryan Davis

Dog Days after summer

No one can replace your best friend … even if they did chew up your favorite pair of shoes … five times. With that in mind October is a great month to show your dog just how much you love them. Here are some cool canine events that will get everyone including Rex and Fido outdoors and having fun.
The 16th annual Bark in the Park (above) featuring the Hyperflight Skyhoundz Canine Disc Championships begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday October 10 in Wrightsville Beach Park. This competition is full of high-flying fun as dogs and their owners compete in a Frisbee throw and catch contest. This year the event will also feature a pet adoption program by Positive Partners. Stop by the Wrightsville Beach recreation office to pre-register or call (910) 256-7925 for more information. To learn about Skyhoundz visit
Dog Fest 2009 will take place on Saturday October 24 at 11:00 a.m. in Empie Park which will be packed with live music vendors food and fun. Enjoy face painting and games with the kids as well as crazy K-9 contests like longest doggie kiss.

“People are really proud of their dogs. This is a great opportunity to show them off ” says Priscilla Skare president of the Dogfest 2009 Committee. For more information visit — Patricia Brown

Back Door Kitchen Tour

On Saturday October 3 from noon to 5 p.m. the Residents of Old Wilmington present the Fourth Annual Historic Back Door Kitchen Tour. Showcasing the kitchen areas of nine homes located in Historic Downtown Wilmington this year’s tour represents decades of history architecture and interior design.

“In these old homes it’s challenging to renovate a kitchen; it’s really an art form ” says tour spokesperson Karen Behm. “It’s fascinating to see how these homeowners contractors and designers captured the historic spirit of the homes while still creating beautiful contemporary kitchens.”

All the homes are in walking distance of each other and you can see all nine kitchens within four hours. Don’t worry if you work up an appetite on this self-guided tour; local restaurants will provide food tastings at five of the homes.

Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 at the door (available at each house). You can start the tour at any of the kitchens and follow the map to all the featured venues. For more information and advanced tickets visit — Patricia Brown

Events at the Battleship

Brits at the Battleship Car Show
Your Chevy gets you where you need to go. It’s reliable solid and safe and sound. It’s everything in fact but foreign. If you’ve got a thing for sports cars from other lands (and really who doesn’t?) we’ve got the event for you. On October 31 at 9:00 a.m. the British Motor Club of Cape Fear will sponsor the 11th annual Brits at the Battleship Car Show at Battleship Park.

Up to 150 vehicles will be present the majority of them built by Brits. First second and third place prizes will be awarded with the judging done by a surprising group of foreign-car enthusiasts. “The judging will be done by the participants the people who show the cars because the people who own them know what’s special about them ” says John Moore spokesperson for the event.

The show will also include live music vendors and food. Admission is free and vehicle registration for the event is $25 by October 15 with proceeds benefiting the Battleship Preservation Fund. For more information visit the British Motor Club of Cape Fear at

Fabulous Fantail Family Film

If you’re as tired of outrageous ticket prices stale popcorn and sticky floors as we are here’s the ideal way to cure your box office blues. On Friday October 9 at 7:00 p.m. the Battleship North Carolina will feature the smash-hit comedy Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd as part of their Fabulous Fantail Family Film Favorite Series. A quick ship-lingo refresher: the fantail is the back deck of the battleship. And it’s there under the stars on the aft deck where you and your family and friends will experience a Friday movie night unlike any other. Tickets are $1 (yes you read that right) and are available only at the door. Fresh popcorn and sodas will also be on sale for $1 each. Want to explore other parts of the ship? Arrive early for a full tour of this beautiful WWII battleship. The ship is open for visitors until 5:00 p.m. with the last tour ticket sold at 4:00 p.m. For more information call (910) 251-5797 or visit — Patricia Brown

lob or volley … this is a game you’ll love

Beach Tennis finds its way to Wrightsville Beach

When the Wiegman family brought beach tennis to the … well … beach says Valerie Wiegman they had no idea how popular it would become. First introduced to this sun-and-sand version of tennis while attending a professional tennis tournament the Wiegmans were fascinated and knew they had to bring it home to share with friends.

Beach tennis takes the game off the court and onto the sand. A sectioned-off area the size of a standard beach volleyball court — 30 feet by 60 feet — a special self-supported net that is five feet 10 inches tall standard tennis racquets and depressurized tennis balls are the only other equipment required to play.

All games are played doubles with a continuous volley (tennis balls don’t bounce well on sand!) and can entertain family members of any age. “No one else is doing this in the community ” says Wiegman “and it’s a great opportunity to get the whole family involved.”

Every Sunday those interested in playing are welcome to join in near Dune Ridge on Wrightsville Beach. “Even passersby stop to tell us how much fun it looks like we’re having ” says Wiegman “and we really are having fun.”

These beach tennis players plan to play well into the fall. And even if they have to surrender the court when the weather gets rough the Wiegmans and friends racquets at the ready will be back on the beach when the weather gets warm. — Ryan Davis