ONLINE UPDATE: Christmas steers through Banks Channel early

by Kelly Corbett
Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two days after Thanksgiving, Christmas trees, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, ducks, dolphins, nurses and an octopus traveled through Banks Channel with thousands watching.

The 28 boats featured during the 30th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla boat parade in Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, Nov. 30, navigated the route in under an hour.

A few of the decorations also featured scenes from popular holiday films, like “The Nightmare before Christmas,” “Home Alone” and “A Christmas Story.”

Dr. Brady Semmel won Best in Show with a Great White Christmas theme featuring Mary Lee the Shark with a mechanical mouth. Crewmembers held a sign reading, “SOS Save our sharks.”

Semmel will take home the grand prize, a 17-foot Carolina skiff, donated by Hutchens Law Firm.

Chairwoman Linda Brown said she was thrilled.

“I think they’re some of the best quality boats we’ve ever had,” Brown said shortly after the parade.

More than 12,000 people voted in the text to vote portion of the contest this year, with Capt. Skip Wilson taking the title for the People’s Choice award with a Charlie Brown Christmas theme. First-time boat parade participants Tim and Emily Moss won Crowd Favorite with their rendition of a scene from “Home Alone.”

Other winners include Paula Sturdy and Van Marr with “My Radio Flyer – Toys from the Attic,” Lindsay Hancock with “Hancoctopus,” Brent Jernigan with “Santa Jaws,” Steve Sutton with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Dolphin” and Mark Strauss with “Classic Hatteras.”

The judges, including Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project Coordinator Nancy Fahey and outgoing Mayor David Cignotti among others, stood on the Blockade Runner Beach Resort dock to see the boats up close while marking their scores based on characteristics like spirit and creativity.

Before the parade, spectators like Bob and Patty Wilson looked forward to seeing the boat decorations.

The couple staked out a spot on Waynick Boulevard two hours before the parade started.

“We’re from Erie, Pennsylvania, so we’ve seen snow,” Patty Wilson said about her first time seeing a flotilla parade.

Fahey, who was the last judge to hand in her votes, said her problem is she does not know how she is going to pick.

“I always think they’re all great,” Fahey said.

The full story along with a photo collage of flotilla festivities will be printed on Thursday, Dec. 5.


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