Just two months following a direct hit by Hurricane Florence, a nationally-renowned holiday attraction returns to Wrightsville Beach this weekend. Organizers of the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla said on Friday that despite the disruptions caused by Hurricane Florence, the boat parade will have a level of participation similar to prior years.
Flotilla committee member Jimmy Gilleece said that boat registrations were approaching 20, putting the boat parade on par with previous years.
“We’ve been through a lot the past few months, but it hasn’t kept the boaters away,” Gilleece said. ” Our loyal entrants have come back and will be ready to put on a flotilla will be one to remember.”
“The show will go on,” stated Linda Brown, Committee Chair of the 35th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, presented by Blockade Runner Beach Resort. “We need this for Wrightsville Beach Strong and the communities that surround us. The flotilla will go on.”
“Festival in the Park, a prelude to the flotilla, opens from 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday,” said Linda Brown. “This year’s festival includes 75 to 90 vendors; a large play area for the children with bouncy houses and slides; the popular and relaxing Arab Choo-Choo train ride; arts and crafts booths; food vendors; and the antique, classic, and special interest car show. The car show has grown tremendously, with over 150 cars expected this year.”
Saturday night’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd more than 50,000.
Following the colorful and festive water parade, the flotilla ends with a massive and dazzling Zambelli fireworks display.
Although the hotel is closed for renovations due to damages sustained from Hurricane Florence, Blockade Runner Beach Resort will continue to serve as the host and presenting sponsor for the Holiday Flotilla in 2018.
“The Blockade Runner has been a partner since the very beginning in 1983,” said Brown. “We’re so sorry for their damages during the hurricane, but we are excited to have the flotilla headquarters, sponsor’s tent, and judge’s stand on Blockade Runner’s sound-side lawn and docks again this year.”
A North Carolina landmark locally owned by the Baggett family, Blockade Runner Beach Resort is planning to wrap up repairs and improvements with a grand reopening in early spring 2018.
Text voting continues this year with the People’s Choice Awards selected by spectators. “Text voting is growing substantially,” said Brown. “Four years ago, we had about 5,600 votes; last year, we had over 14,000 text votes,” said Brown. Winners receive flotilla trophies and prizes at the captain’s breakfast on Sunday.
“I want people to know that you can have a devastating storm and no matter how tough you think it is to get back to “normal,” it can be done,” said Brown. “We are making sure that Flotilla is strong this year because we are Wrightsville Beach Strong.”
Flotilla Parking Information
Parked vehicles that obstruct a portion of the roadway can block access for emergency vehicles, particularly fire engines and ambulances that require more space than passenger cars. While obstructing any roadway can be dangerous, during the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla this problem is of particular concern on the narrow streets of South Harbor Island.
During the Holiday Flotilla Boat Parade & Fireworks Show, signs will be posted on the following streets reminding motorists not to park on the pavement.
- North Channel Drive
- Island Drive
- Shore Drive
- South Channel Drive
- Point Place
- Live Oak Drive
- Lindy Lane
- Jasmine Place east of Live Oak Drive
- Myrtle Court
Due to the serious public safety hazard posed by improperly parked vehicles, violators will be ticketed and/or towed.
Holiday Weekend Schedule of Activities:
Thursday, November 22nd, 8:30 a.m. the annual Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity Turkey Trot begins. Over 2,000 participants of this event will run the Loop 5k course which begins and ends at Town Hall. The eastbound lane of West Salisbury Street, the southbound lane of North Lumina Avenue between Salisbury Street and Causeway Drive, and the outside westbound lane of Causeway Drive will be closed to facilitate this race. Vehicles may experience some minor traffic delays from 8:25 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. Wrightsville Beach Police Officers will be directing traffic where necessary.
Friday, November 23rd, 5:30 pm Tree Lighting Ceremony at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall Performance Club’s Elf Patrol will sing a variety of Christmas tunes followed by the lighting of the Town Christmas Tree welcoming Santa’s arrival to Wrightsville Beach. While waiting for a visit with Santa, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate as you listen to a special holiday musical performance by the Wilmington Celebration Choir.
Saturday, November 24th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Festival in the Park at Wrightsville Beach Park. Shop numerous unique craft vendors, eat delicious festival food, and entertain the kids with a variety of fun activities including games, bounce houses, and a ride on the Arab Choo Choo Train.
Saturday, November 24th, 6:00 pm – The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Boat Parade and Fireworks Show is sure to please with a spectacular lineup of brightly decorated vessels lighting up the waterways followed by a magnificent display of fireworks.
For further information, please call the Parks & Recreation Office at 910-256-7925 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.