Boaters who participate in the 32nd North Carolina Holiday Flotilla this year will have a chance to take home more cash after the committee that organizes the festival voted during its Monday, Aug. 24 meeting to increase the prize money.
The Flotilla is scheduled to take place Nov. 27 and 28 in Wrightsville Beach. The highlight of the weekend is the lighted boat parade, featuring lighted vessels of all shapes and sizes. The boats are judged and win prizes based on different categories.
“I’d rather see $750 for each category than see more categories,” said committee member Nancy Faye Craig.
The committee unanimously approved Craig’s motion to increase the awards this year. The boat captain who takes the Best Powerboat 31 Foot and Over, Best Powerboat 23 Foot to 31 Foot, Best Powerboat 22 Foot and Under, Best Sailboat and Best Costumes and Crew Spirit categories will each receive $750. Winners are determined by judges.
The winners of the People’s Choice and Crowd Favorite categories will receive $1,500.
The People’s Choice award goes to the boat that receives the highest number of text message votes when the amount of votes per person is unlimited.
The Crowd Favorite is awarded to the boat that receives the highest number of text message votes when voters are limited to one vote each.
“It wouldn’t alienate somebody who didn’t do as good of a job campaigning,” said Pres Davenport, the committee’s chair.
The highest award is Best in Show. Davenport said the grand prize is normally worth $5,000, but the committee is still determining how to award it. Some members suggested keeping it as a cash prize, but Davenport would like to include merchandise — ideally items donated by sponsors.
“I’m just trying to think of ways to get our money to go further,” he said. “We look for ways to give the best prize and keep it fresh because a lot of the same people enter every year.”
Past grand prizes include a one-week rental in a condo in the Bahamas. Davenport said the committee no longer offers those due to high airplane ticket prices.
“It’s sort of an empty prize because it costs you $3,000 to go on your free trip,” he said.
Craig said there is currently only one committed judge, Linwood Gainey of Bangz Hair Salon, and the committee needs four more for the parade.
“It can be anybody who’s familiar with the flotilla. If anybody is interested, we’d ask them to let us know,” she said.
Jane Martin, who is serving her first year on the committee, announced that McGladrey, a tax and consulting company located in downtown Wilmington, donated $1,000 toward the committee’s efforts to put children from D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program on a boat in the parade.