Beach Bites

BY Michelle Billman Hannah Bunn and Kristen Nieto

Changing of the guard

Wrightsville Beach welcomes new mayor

This month the town of Wrightsville Beach will install Steve Whalen a 17-year resident of the area as its new mayor. Whalen who ran unopposed is the president and owner of Keith & Associates Inc. an executive search firm that works exclusively with financial institutions. When he’s not working Whalen spends a lot of his time out in the community chairing the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority serving as a trustee for the Wrightsville United Methodist Church volunteering as a Stephen Minister and presiding as president of Methodist Men where he started an annual golf tournament eight years ago that has raised $10 000 every year since for local charities.

Even with all of his commitments Whalen finds time to go kayaking and to take relaxing walks on the beach with his wife Jo and their two dogs Finnigan and Max. He also enjoys visits with his two stepchildren Angie and Neil along with his eight grandchildren.

With so many interests and activities on his plate already Whalen explains why he wants to take on the duties of mayor: “I hope that I can give back to Wrightsville Beach as much as Wrightsville Beach has given to me.” And with five main goals for his two-year term as mayor Whalen is already planning improvements that will benefit the community. Whalen will be sworn in with the other new members of the board of aldermen at its monthly meeting on December 13. For more information on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen visit— Michelle Billman

Steve Whalen’s five goals for the next two years

Cracking down on disruptive tourist activities like late-night noise violations and property destruction in downtown and
residential areas.

Facilitating beach renourishment a process that protects against severe weather damage to nearby properties but that is not funded by the federal or state government.

Educating the citizens of New Hanover County about the significant contributions that the town of Wrightsville Beach makes both financially and through numerous social activities each year.

Increasing resident participation in local government by televising board of aldermen meetings holding quarterly meetings with the business community and scheduling town hall meetings so that citizens can have an open dialogue with their elected officials.

Finalizing a new safety building that will serve as a fire and police station.

Be cool about fire safety

Hot holiday tips for keeping your family safe

The holidays are a magical time filled with tradition sparkling lights friends and family. But in the midst of all the merriment can lurk unforeseen dangers. Fires cause more than $930 million in damage and injure more than 2 600 people each holiday season. We know you don’t want your holidays to go up in smoke so we asked Fire Chief Frank D. Smith at the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department for some safety tips to keep in mind while you celebrate the season.

Use Caution with Candles

Lit candles are very popular during the holidays for the glowing ambience they create in the home. However they have been a frequent cause of house fires here in Wrightsville Beach. To enjoy them safely make sure you:

• Never leave burning candles unattended

• Keep combustible materials out of the vicinity

• Don’t put candles in an area where children or pets could knock them over

• Never put lit candles on or near a Christmas tree

Prevent Christmas Tree Fires

If it catches fire a live Christmas tree can fill a room with flames smoke and deadly gases in less than one minute. Don’t let your sparkling spectacle — and all of the presents beneath it — become a tragedy. Select a fresh tree with moist green needles that don’t easily fall off and a trunk that is sticky to the touch. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times and be sure not to place your tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or heat vent which will dry out the tree and make it extremely flammable. If you are using an artificial or metallic tree be sure that it is flame retardant. And make sure your Christmas tree does not block the exit in the event that it does catch fire.

Be Smart About Decorations

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the display of electric lights and decorations to show your neighbors and the world that you’re in the holiday spirit but before you get too dazzled remember to put safety first.

• Inspect lights each year for frayed wires bare spots or excessive wear

• Do not overload electrical outlets; wires shouldn’t be warm to the touch

• Use only nonflammable decorations

• Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup that could lead to an explosion.

Monitor the Kitchen When Preparing Holiday Meals

Cooking accidents are the leading cause of fires in the home killing hundreds of Americans and injuring thousands more each year. When preparing that prized ham or turkey along with the rest of the holiday feast it’s easy to get distracted by the multi-tasking and pressure of entertaining. However most kitchen fires start when cooking has been left unattended so make sure to stay in the kitchen and closely monitor your cooking boiling pots and sizzling pans. Hannah Bunn

Oh Tannenbaum!

Annual “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” lighting

The 78th annual Lighting of the World’s Largest Christmas Tree will take place on December 6 at Hilton Park in Historic Downtown Wilmington. Entertainment begins at 5:45 p.m. with caroling and a welcome performance. At 6:15 p.m. the tree will light up and Santa Claus will open his house for children to visit until his bedtime at 8:30 p.m. This traditional holiday event is open to the public. — Kristen Nieto

Airlie Gardens is winging it

Butterfly house in the works for next summer

Airlie Gardens’ director Jim McDaniel states that after much preparation Airlie will open a new butterfly house in the summer of next year. The 3 000-4 000-square-foot screened greenhouse will be located in the center of the gardens. The screened walls and ceiling will provide natural weather for the butterflies and plants and the COR-TEN steel framework will blend well with the surrounding nature making it seem as though the house grew there organically.

The butterfly house will be added to the New Hanover County Schools’ field trip curriculum. The children will learn about and see firsthand the life cycles of native butterflies: eggs growing caterpillars displayed chrysalis and of course the adult butterflies.

“I’m so excited ” says McDaniel “that we can offer something new to the county and its schools.”

Matt Collogan Airlie Gardens’ environmental education coordinator says the butterfly house will feature eight native breeds of butterflies including the giant swallowtail the largest butterfly in North America; and the popular monarch. Both host and nectar plants will be provided for the butterflies and visitors will learn which plants are needed for what breed of butterfly. All plants will be native and prevalent meaning easy to grow for anyone interested in starting his or her own butterfly garden.

“I encourage people ” says Collogan the driving force behind the research for the butterfly house “to come learn about the diversity in their own backyards and how to create their own backyard habitat.” — Kristen Nieto

Every time a bell rings

It’s A Wonderful Liferadio play at Thalianrank Capra’s beloved Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life will come alive in an imaginative new way at Thalian Hall this holiday season. Presented by the North Carolina Stage Company and Immediate Theatre Project theater companies based in Asheville the play will be performed Saturday December 15 at Thalian Hall at 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. Audiences young and old know and love the story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls but this show will revisit a form of entertainment that the young may not be so familiar with — radio.

“The show takes you back to 1946 and places the story in a live radio studio the way that live radio dramas used to be ” says Stephen Barefoot Main Attractions programming consultant for Thalian Hall. “They do commercials and sound effects live right there in the studio.” In this case the “studio” is the stage complete with a light-up “On Air” sign to recreate the feel of the WBFR Radio Station on Christmas Eve 1946 and provide the audience a sneak peek into a simpler time. This adaptation of the classic film is sure to bring some charm to the hectic holiday season and remind us of Christmas the way it used to be. Tickets are $25 for reserved seating $18 the day of the performance and can be purchased at the Thalian Hall Box Office or by calling (910) 343-3664. — Hannah Bunn

Ringing singing and drumming in the new year

Children’s Museum hosts Kidfest hink your 3-year-old can’t make plans for New Year’s Eve? Think again. On December 31 the Children’s Museum of Wilmington will host Kidfest from 5-9 p.m. Kidfest is an opportunity for families with children ages 1-10 to celebrate New Year’s Eve together with style and fun. Children will make drums maracas and other crafts. They’ll sing enjoy numerous types of glow-in-the-dark entertainment and every hour the museum will have a multicultural countdown — counting down the New Year at the very same time as Turkey Portugal and Brazil to name a just few of the counting countries. It promises to be an evening the whole family will enjoy and remember. To make reservations or for more information call the Children’s Museum of Wilmington at (910) 254-3534 ext. 107 or visit— Kristen Nieto

A day still living in infamy

Pearl Harbor Day commemoration at Battleship park

An event commemorating the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be held at 1:25 p.m. at the Pearl Harbor Memorial at Battleship Park on Friday Dec. 7. The ceremony begins at the actual time in Wilmington when the attack began. Survivors and witnesses should contact Wilbur Jones at (910) 793-6393 or via e-mail: [email protected].

See you next season

Last chance to visit Local Farmers’ Markets With another cold wet Carolina winter on the way here’s your last chance to stock up on fresh produce preserves and other delectables before your official winter hibernation begins. The Riverfront Farmers’ Market in Historic Downtown Wilmington and the Farmers’ Market at the historic Poplar Grove Plantation have been providing local farmers producers and artists with an outlet to sell their products since the spring — if you haven’t been taking advantage of these excellent markets start now before it’s too late.

The Riverfront Farmers’ Market vendors set up curbside on North Water Street in Historic Downtown Wilmington every Saturday from April 21 until December 22 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and offer an array of goods including fresh fruits vegetables seafood meats cheeses fudge honey art crafts and much more. The Farmers’ Market at Poplar Grove takes place every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from April 4 through December 19 on the shady front lawn of the plantation (ample free parking). The Poplar Grove market carries a wide selection of similar products varying with the season and availability.

Both markets have in common goals of providing a place for local growers and merchants to sell directly to consumers to educate and promote local farming and to create a sense of community by offering a place to gather and interact. When December ends you’ll have to wait through the winter until the farmers’ markets pop up with the flowers in spring. For more information visit the markets’ Web sites at and — Hannah Bunn