An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday in Wrightsville Beach
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    An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday in Wrightsville Beach, NC 33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Zambelli International Fireworks 12th Annual '… Read More
    An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday in Wrightsville Beach, NC 33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Zambelli International Fireworks 12th Annual 'Enchanted Airlie' at Airlie Gardens Wrightsville Beach Day in the Park, Tree Lighting, and Santa Visit Robert B Butler Communications | PR www.RBButler.com Read Less
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2016 Winners North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
Brent Jernigan, Lake Waccamaw, Best of Show, NC Holiday Flotilla, Photo by Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla BEST OF SHOW Trophy, passed each year to the new winner – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
Flotilla, Fireworks, and Airlie Gardens Launch Carolina Holidays
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC - Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, launched the Carolina holiday season with the 33rd annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a 4,000-round Zambelli Fireworks display, and the season opening for Airlie Gardens' 12th annual Enchanted Airlie. ​​​​​​​


2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Raising the flags at the NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
"We had perfect weather Saturday evening for the flotilla andEnchanted Airlie," said Karen Pennington of Blockade Runner Beach Resort, host hotel for the flotilla. "The sky was clear, temperatures were seasonally warm at 55 to 60 degrees with a light breeze."
2015 NC Holiday Flotilla Panoramic – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography
33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Winners:

Category: Best of Show 
Captain: Brent Jernigan, Lake Waccamaw, NC
Vessel: Craig Cat #11
Theme: White Water Christmas

Category: Peoples Choice 
Captain: Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Hampstead, NC
Vessel: Come on Cletus #2
Theme: Hang Claws

Category: Crowd Favorite 
Captain: Jordan Messick, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Vessel: Tall Tail #8
Theme: The Jolly Jellyfish

Category: Best Powerboat 31ft. and over 
Captain: Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Wilmington, NC
Vessel: Endless Summer #1 
Theme: Rock the Boat - A Floating Studio 54

Category: Best Powerboat 23ft. - 31ft. 
Captain: Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Wilmington, NC
Vessel: Charlie #5
Theme: The Pirates of Wrightsville

Category: Best Powerboat 22ft. and under 
Captain: Tim Morrison, Carolina Beach, NC
Vessel: Wake Zone #16
Theme: Train 

Category: Best Sailboat
Captain: Kevin Snyder, Raleigh, NC
Vessel: Why Knot? #17
Theme: Coastal Christmas

Category: Best Costumes & Crew Spirit 
Captain: Michael and Chris Spivey, Liberty, NC
Vessel: Angler Management #7
Theme: The Christmas Kraken

Best in Show, Brent Jernigan, Craig Cat #11, White Water Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
Best In Show, Brent Jernigan, Craig Cat #11, White Water Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
People's Choice Award, Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Come on Cletus #2, Hang Claws – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
People's Choice Award, Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Come on Cletus #2, Hang Claws – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, Tall Tail #8, The Jolly Jellyfish – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, Tall Tail #8, The Jolly Jellyfish – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Endless Summer #1, Rock the Boat, A Floating Studio 54 – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Endless Summer #1, Rock the Boat, A Floating Studio 54 – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 23-31', Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Charlie #5, Pirates of Wrightsville – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Powerboat 23-31', Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Charlie #5, Pirates of Wrightsville – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Tim Morrison, Wake Zone #16, Train – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth 
Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Tim Morrison, Wake Zone #16, Train – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth 
Best Sailboat, Kevin Snyder, Why Knot? #17, Coastal Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Sailboat, Kevin Snyder, Why Knot? #17, Coastal Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Costumes and Crew Spirit, Michael and Chris Spivey, Angler Management #7, The Christmas Kraken – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography
Wrightsville Beach, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, will launch the Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, both distinguished as Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Flotilla week, packed with festivities and family activities, highlights the 33rd annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a massive 23-minute Zambelli Fireworks display, and the 12th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie. Both events combined attract over 100,000 spectators during the holidays.

Located on the flotilla parade route and providing transportation and tickets to Enchanted Airlie, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort begins the celebration with a traditional and coastal feast on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 2016. Throughout the day and flotilla week, scenic nature tours, eco-shelling, inshore bottom-fishing and sunset cruises guided by The Cape Fear Naturalist, Captain Joe Abbate, depart from the Blockade Runner dock.

Flotilla week’s itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Atlantic Marine flotilla launch party featuring the Embers. Saturday’s schedule includes Festival In the Park, bustling with bouncy houses, slides, climbing walls, the Arab Choo Choo, live music, an antique auto show, and an estimated 100 booths featuring local merchants and arts and crafts vendors. Enchanted Airlie will open both Friday and Saturday.
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Brett Cottrell NHCNC
Created by Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie brings to life 35-acres of walking trails in the nighttime forest with an estimated one million colorful lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. The half-mile stroll also offers an indoor visit with Santa plus food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn, cookies, a unique local brew, and more.

Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting visitors from 50 states and over 40 nations.

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 of 50,000 revelers. Text voting continues this year with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators and presented to the winners on Sunday.

Immediately following the flotilla, a 23-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color.

Enchanted Airlie is open to the public Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-4, 9-11, and 15-22, 2016. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m.  Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests can call the hotel to make arrangements.

Airlie visitors should plan ahead. “We will sell out all dates and times,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens Director of Donor Relations.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.​​​​​​​
           Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography
Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
2016 Flotilla Week Itinerary

An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday:

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 
Thanksgiving Day eve arrival – activities on the oceanfront garden lawn, beachcombing, waterway tours, and East Oceanfront Dining (910-256-2251). Host Hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov. 23-26, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Scenic waterway nature tours with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Island shelling, Masonboro Island Cruises, Harbor Island Cruises, and Sunset Cruises. Learn, discover, explore, and enjoy the natural wonders of the Carolina Coast. Departing from the Blockade Runner sound-side docks.

Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016
Thanksgiving Day Buffet at Blockade Runner Beach Resort – Children's games on the garden lawn, chairs and umbrellas on the beach, and The Loop. The 2.5-mile John Nesbitt Loop offers fresh air, exercise, and the scenic beauty of Wrightsville Beach. The Loop is used for walking, biking, jogging, and skating. Call 910-256-2251 for Thanksgiving Day Buffet reservations - traditional and coastal fare.

Friday – Saturday, Nov. 25-26, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m.
12th Annual ‘Enchanted Airlie’ – Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie comes alive with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided walking trail of holiday displays with seasonal sounds. Warm holiday refreshments add the perfect touch for an evening stroll.

Friday, Nov. 25, 5:45 p.m.
Tree Lighting Ceremony and visit with Santa at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall.  Bring your unwrapped gift to donate to Toys for Tots.  Hot chocolate will be available for donations.

Friday, Nov. 25, 7:00 p.m.
Flotilla Launch Party featuring Craig Woolard and the Embers – Enjoy an evening of live entertainment, great food, a live auction, and good times. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Host hotel, Blockade Runner.

Saturday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Festival In the Park – Wrightsville Beach Town Hall Park – Including a large play area, antique car show, local merchants and arts and crafts booths, a large selection of festival food, and the popular the Arab Choo-Choo. Live musical performances: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 26, 6 p.m.
33rd Annual NC Holiday Flotilla Parade – An estimated 50,000 visitors gather each year to cheer the parade of yachts and motorboats, each decorated with a holiday theme and thousands of glittering lights. The flotilla follows a 4-mile route, passing the judges viewing stand at the host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort. 

Saturday, Nov. 26, (immediately following the boat parade)
33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Presented by world famous Zambelli International, the evening ends with a stunning 20 minute, 4,000-round fireworks display, illuminating the night sky and showering the waterways with sound and color.

Sunday, Nov. 27, 6 p.m.
Holiday Flotilla Awards Ceremony, host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Dolphin Sunset Cruise with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist.

Sunday, Nov. 27, 5:30 p.m.
Dolphin Sunset Cruise with Captain Joe Abbate, The Cape Fear Naturalist, Blockade Runner sound-side dock

Monday, Nov. 28, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Scenic waterway nature tours with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Island shelling, Masonboro Island Cruise, Harbor Island Cruise, and Sunset Cruise.
NC Holiday Flotilla Host Hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Photo courtesy Lemonstripe
Contacts:
Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7700
Cell: 910-612-7854
jpowell@nhcgov.com
Linda Brown
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120
Info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org
Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

*Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2015 and North Carolina Holiday Flotilla was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2016.

Permission granted for redistribution – photo credits required.
2015
Winners, Photos, and Wedding Proposal from North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
Enchanted Airlie Launches Month-long Holiday Show

2015 Best of Show, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 People's Choice Award, Captains Ava and Scott Werstein, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 People's Choice, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Crowd Favorite, Lindley College, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Captain Chris Spivey, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Boat Size 23-31', Captain Mark Dillon, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 ​Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Christopher Bishop, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Best Powerboat 31' and Over, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Best Sailboat, Captain Dean Grey, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Best Costumes and Crew Spirit, Captains Patric and Christina Hudson, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
Marriage proposal by Captain Mike Hamby of Wilmington, North Carolina, 2015 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
Marriage proposal by Captain Mike Hamby, 2015 NC Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Zambelli Fireworks, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, courtesy of Robert B Butler
Winners 2015 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, courtesy North Carolina Press Release
Captain Mike Hamby with bride-to-be Sharon Edelstein, courtesy North Carolina Press Release

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC - Large crowds gathered Thanksgiving week in Wrightsville Beach for the 11th season opening of Enchanted Airlie and the 32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla. Opening nights at 67-acre Airlie Gardens were completely sold out, with holiday light and sound shows continuing through December 22.

Saturday's holiday flotilla followed a 4-mile route, idling past an estimated 50,000 visitors, and passed the judges' viewing stand at Blockade Runner Beach Resort. Twenty-three yachts, sailboats and motorboats, each competing for cash, prizes, and bragging rights, were brightly decorated with thousands of twinkling lights in a variety of holiday themes.

In a first for the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Captain Mike Hamby of Wilmington used his holiday decorated boat as a surprise wedding proposal. When passing his girlfriend on the parade route, Captain Hamby flipped a switch lighting up the words: "Sharon, will you marry me?" Sharon Edelstein of Wilmington accepted the surprise proposal via cell phone.
 
Flotilla evening ended with a stunning 4,000-round fireworks display by Zambelli International, illuminating the night sky, and showering the waterway with sound and color. 

Text voting continued this year, with Crowd Favorite and People's Choice Awards determined by spectators. 

Fall weather conditions for the week were ideal, with clear skies, highs in the 60s and 70s, with lows mostly in the 50s.  

2015 winners include:

Category: Best of Show 
Captain: Brent Jernigan 
Vessel: Craig Cat 
Theme: Merry Marlin

Category: Peoples Choice 
Captain: Ava and Scott Werstein 
Vessel: Cash
Theme: Santa Claws
Furtilla

Category: Crowd Favorite 
Captain: Lindley College
Vessel: That's What Sea Said
Theme: Snow Wars

Category: Best Powerboat 31ft. and over 
Captain: Christopher Bishop
Vessel: Bella Mare 
Theme: Santa's On Vacation December 26th

Category: Best Powerboat 23ft. - 31ft. 
Captain: Mark Dillon
Vessel: Summer Salt
Theme: Top Gun

Category: Best Powerboat 22ft. and under 
Captain: Chris Spivey 
Vessel: 5 o'clock Somewhere
Theme: Here We Come a Whale-
sa-ling

Category: Best Sailboat
Captain: Dean Grey
Vessel: Bird
Theme: Patriotic Christmas

Category: Best Costumes & Crew Spirit 
Captain: Patric and Christina Hudson
Vessel: Charlie
Theme: Have an Awesome Lego Christmas

Flotilla website:  www.NCHolidayFlotilla.org 
 
Contact:
Pres Davenport, Board Chairman
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org
p. 910-256-2120

Robert B Butler | PR
www.RBButler.com 
www.NCPressRelease.org 
Times Square, NYC, courtesy Robert B Butler, Full Moon Photo, Lee Capps Photography
Times Square, NYC, courtesy Robert B Butler, Full Moon Photo, Lee Capps Photography
Yes, this is real. Full Moon Rising at Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Courtesy Lee Capps Photography, Burlington
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie
Photography by Josh McClure
Courtesy Wilmington and Beaches CVB
An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Listen for details...
Full Moon, Flotilla, Fireworks, and Airlie Kick Off Holidays


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – The 32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Zambelli Fireworks, and The 11th Annual Enchanted Airlie officially launch the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend in Wrightsville Beach. As if by design, a full moon rising will prelude festivities Thanksgiving Eve, Wed., Nov. 25, 2015, at 5:45 p.m.

Voted a Top 20 Event in 2015 by the Southeast Tourism Society, Airlie Gardens’ 67-acre nighttime forest awakens as Enchanted Airlie, with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided, walking trail of holiday displays and seasonal sounds.

Conceived and created by Airlie Gardens Foundation eleven years ago, Enchanted Airlie has rapidly gained national and international prominence as a must-see attraction. “We had visitors from all 50 states and 47 different countries,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens’ Development Director. “In 2014, attendance was a record breaking 40,000 people.”

As well as a maritime parade of festive boats and stunning fireworks, the flotilla itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Atlantic Marine Flotilla Launch Party featuring the Embers. On Saturday, Festival in the Park will bustle with bouncy houses, slides, climbing walls, the Arab Choo Choo, live music, an antique auto show, and an estimated 100 booths featuring local merchants and arts and crafts vendors.

Located directly on the flotilla parade route, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort kicks off the holiday celebration with a traditional and coastal Thanksgiving Day feast for early arrivals. Cape Fear Naturalist Captain Joe Abbate will navigate local waters with scenic nature tours and Sunset Cruises at the Blockade Runner dock.

North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 cheering revelers. Text voting continues this year, with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators.

Immediately following the flotilla, a 21-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color. “We have a long show by Zambelli Fireworks, one of the most reputable fireworks companies in the world,” said Pres Davenport, Flotilla Chairman. “We’re able to put on a really impressive display that rivals or surpasses most July 4th shows.”

Enchanted Airlie will open to the public Nov. 27-28, Dec. 4-6, 10-13, and 16-22. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m. Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests can call the hotel to make arrangements. Tickets sell out frequently and are not available at the gate.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.


Contact:

Janine Powell, Development Director
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
910.798.7700 (office)
910.612.7854 (cell)
jpowell@nhcgov.com

Pres Davenport, Board Chairman
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120
info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org

Robert B Butler
Communications | PR