In 2009, Richard Johnson was looking for board members for a start-up nonprofit called masonboro.org that was going to take on the uphill task of keeping Masonboro Island from being closed to visitors by policing the trash and mayhem from public drunkenness ensuing every holiday.
When Lumina News was founded in 2002, I resigned my chairman’s seat on the Wrightsville Beach Historic Landmark Commission, desiring to avoid any potential conflict of interest by serving on a board and holding it accountable as media. With that same ethic, I turned Johnson down. I have frequently wished I had not had to make that choice, because masonboro.org is an incredible group.
In addition to saving the island for the rest of us to enjoy, each August the nonprofit resumes its Masonboro Island Explorer trips for all fifth-graders in the New Hanover County school system. To be able to tell that story, I have ridden along. It’s a wonderful day, regardless of age. Some of the students have never seen the ocean or been on a boat, even though they are native to New Hanover County.
This issue has a couple of tributes.
Tony Rivenbark, executive and artistic director for Thalian Hall, passed away July 19. We have compiled stories that we’ve written about the history and construction of Thalian Hall created from interviewing the incomparable man. For me, Rivenbark became inseparable from the Hall and Thalian Hall from him; they were one and the same for as long as I can remember.
For two decades I called on him for quotes and stories and events and he never let me down.
Before the world went crazy, this magazine held some fascinating roundtable discussions we named our Let’s Talk series. The one we titled “State of the Stage” was held on the stage at Thalian Hall. I’ll never forget nervously standing down front with the curtain closed, after having been there for days getting our set right. Behind that curtain stood a huge table, beautifully dressed, a fabulous chandelier suspended over it, with a wonderful catered meal in the wings, complete with waitstaff.
All the assembled experts on the arts were standing there, barely mingling, mostly looking bored. Up went the curtain with an audible gasp from these arts pros. A sense of wonder filled the air and remained all evening. It was a very memorable night there on the stage with Tony at the head of the table to my left, seated in a massive king’s chair. He will be missed.
Next, on to my now 94-year-old friend George Clark, who I have described for many years as the magazine’s number one fan. George has a young surfer friend who began spending time on his porches and listening to his stories of growing up in Wrightsville. She heard how George was one of the original lifeguards at Wrightsville Beach and she thought to remind town Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker of it. George’s legs and knees are not steady enough anymore for him to go down onto the soft sand, so Baker devised a plan to honor George.
They took him for two rides along the strand in a rescue vehicle. In between, out back of the old fire station, he was presented with a signed rescue buoy and orange whistle in a simple ceremony. You’ll see from the photos that George had a big time.
Nothing we have done in years has riled up our readers like removing the tide chart. Rest assured it is back where it belongs. We enjoyed all your calls and emails.
There’s more great reading in this issue. We’ve had a blast putting it together for you, and we hope you enjoy it.
Relationships matter! Hug someone you love today.
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