The NC Holiday Flotilla that Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington residents have come to know and love is plotting a new course this year. To preserve the Thanksgiving weekend tradition and keep the festival afloat for a 38th consecutive year, the flotilla board has modified the event to account for the social distancing and safety guidelines imposed by the pandemic.
“The Flotilla is happening with a little twist this year,” says committee chair Linda Brown. “Instead of a boat-judging contest with 50,000 people on the shoreline, it’s going to be a dock judging competition from the water. We encourage all residents and businesses on the Flotilla route to decorate their docks with seasonal lighting.”
Those who have a dock along the traditional Flotilla route —from the Heide Trask drawbridge down Motts Channel into Banks Channel and to the Coast Guard Station — will have a chance to be judged on the holiday decorations they place from their door to dock, as well as any moored vessels.
The award categories include Best Commercial Dock, Best Residential Dock, Best Dock Spirit, and the People’s Choice award. There are several cash prizes available, in addition to a weekend getaway to a cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway and a three-day stay at Bald Head Island.
Judges will float along the parade route on the Blockade Runner’s new tour boat, the Carolina Runner, on November 27 and 28. Those without a watercraft can view the live stream of the event, and then vote via text.
While a modified Flotilla will take place, concerns over the coronavirus forced the scuttling of the fireworks show, Day in the Park, and Friday Night Party.
“We were very hesitant to encourage folks to congregate in large crowds,” Brown says.