The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla almost went without event liability insurance for the 30th anniversary event.
The event is the largest in town, drawing an estimated 50,000 people throughout the weekend.
The flotilla committee briefly discussed the confusion about insurance during the end of the first meeting of the year on Monday, Jan. 27.
Town manager Tim Owens said on Tuesday, Jan. 28, that he assumed flotilla had liability insurance. The 30th anniversary was the first year Owens has been Wrightsville Beach’s town manager during the weekend event, when he also served as a boat parade judge.
When Owens sat down with parks and recreation program supervisor Katie Ryan, he asked her if flotilla was covered.
“There may have been some misunderstanding if they were covered or not,” Owens said. “What I did was I worked with our carrier and verified that they weren’t covered, so they had to, at the 11th hour, get the liability insurance. … They were covered for the fireworks.”
Owens helped chairwoman Linda Brown secure an insurance policy just days before the weekend event with the Harold W. Wells & Son, Inc.
Brown said she was not expecting to write the check for slightly more than $2,600 for liability insurance.
“I think they cover their board of directors,” Owens said. Regarding the 2012 event, he said, “To my knowledge, they probably didn’t have a liability policy.”
The town was covered, but the committee could have been held responsible if anything happened during the Day in the Park or the boat parade.
The town plans to hold a meeting with its insurance carrier to ensure all events are covered, Owens said.
Flotilla committee members also discussed more precautions to help lessen the amount of trash left behind from fireworks.
“We had another deal with trash on the island this year,” Brown said. “… With any fireworks, there is going to be trash. There is no way to avoid it.”
Sean Ahlum, chair of the Surfrider Foundation’s board of directors, spoke during the meeting, expressing interest in partnering with flotilla to mitigate the fireworks’ impact and raise awareness about the importance of cleaning the beach.
Flotilla finances came in at a profit of about $600 after budgeting for an approximate $5,000 loss. In-kind sponsorships totaled $36,250.
“It’s been getting better each year since we started organizing the financials differently,” said treasurer Elaine Andrews. “It only took two years to get here, but we’re here.”
In 2012, the profit was slightly more than $1,000.
“I think it was a remarkable year, but you can see without TDA money, we can’t do it,” Brown said.
Brown led her last meeting on Jan. 27, with Pres Davenport, formerly in charge of media and public relations for the committee, filling her seat. She will still remain active as a committee member. Ryan Rhodenhiser, former committee secretary, will serve as vice chair. The board is also looking to hire a certified public accountant.
This article first stated insurance was obtained from the North Carolina
League of Municipalities, but the insurance was through Harold W. Wells &
Son, Inc., of Wilmington.