The Wrightsville Beach community comes together at the end of August to remember and celebrate the legendary 1930s era of dancing and dining at Lumina Pavilion. This year’s Lumina Daze Celebration will be held Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Madeline Flagler, Wrightsville Beach Museum executive director, said the event would pay homage to Lumina Pavilion with a carefree night of food and live music.
“Such a focal point of the Lumina Pavilion was the dance floor,” Flagler said during an Aug.18 phone interview. “The event really, to a great degree, has always been centered around the music.”
Max Woodbury, Wrightsville Beach Museum volunteer, remembered the excitement of visiting Lumina as a child and seeing the famous musical acts that played at the pavilion.
“A lot of the people that come used to go to the upper deck and dance rock and roll,” Woodbury said during an Aug. 18 phone interview. “I’ve been as close to four feet away from Jerry Lee Lewis when I was a little kid. … I told my mom I saw the craziest guy, he stood on his head and played the piano.”
Flagler said three bands will entertain guests with live music throughout the evening. The Imitations, a crowd favorite in years past, will be back this year to play beach music for guests on the front patio. The Wilmington Big Band orchestra will provide swing music in the Blockade Runner ballroom, and The Dixieland All-Stars will perform lively jazz music.
“We have [the bands]spread out throughout the Blockade Runner venue so you can really drift back and forth between the different music areas,” Flagler said.
The Blockade Runner will provide food and drinks in its restaurant and on the front lawn for guests to purchase, and countless businesses in the community have donated items for both live and silent auctions.
Flagler said among the items donated are tickets to trolley tours, tickets to Taste of Wrightsville Beach and the Flotilla Launch Party, gift certificates to local restaurants, jewelry and paintings by George Pocheptsov. All proceeds from the auctions benefit the Wrightsville Beach Museum.
The centerpiece of the live auction will be a watercolor painting by nationally known artist Deborah Cavanaugh, titled, “There is No Place Like Home.” The 30- by 24-inch piece represents life at Wrightsville Beach, with references throughout to local landmarks and activities.
“We counted them, and I think there are 35 references throughout the painting,” Flagler said. “It’s so detailed. It’s been a really heartwarming tribute that she’s put together.”
Cavanaugh, who lived near Wrightsville Beach for 20 years before moving back to her hometown of Washington, D.C., said she created the piece as a tribute to the town and the community that supported her as an artist and helped her raise her children. Every detail in the painting honors a specific aspect of the Wrightsville Beach community, from the surfers to the fishermen to the families swimming in the ocean.
“I wanted to really represent in a pictorial way what the folks who live at the beach love about the beach,” she said. “I wanted to really allow the people who live at the beach to see themselves in the painting.”
Cavanaugh said the process of painting also allowed her to reflect on her memories from Wrightsville Beach during the years.
“Remembering my many times on the beach, with my grandfather fishing and my children running around and digging their sand piles, so it’s sort of an insider’s perspective to what we see,” she said.
The painting reflects the purpose of Lumina Daze, which is to celebrate life at Wrightsville Beach.
“North Carolina has all different kinds of beaches and all of them are different,” Woodbury said. “But of course we think Wrightsville Beach is the most unique.”