Local boaters are getting ready to deck their hulls for a popular Carteret County Christmas tradition.
The Crystal Coast Holiday Flotilla will return for its 30th year along the Morehead City and Beaufort waterfronts. The annual parade of decorated vessels can be seen Dec. 3 starting around 5:30 p.m. along the Morehead City waterfront and then around 6:15 p.m. along the Beaufort waterfront.
“The flotilla is such a popular event and always brings a crowd to the waterfront,” Brent Creelman said. “It’s the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.”
Creelman is the director of operations of the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which hosts the annual Crystal Coast Holiday Flotilla. Proceeds from the flotilla and associated events help support the Friends’ Junior Sailing Program.
“Junior Sailing has received more than $65,000 in support from the flotilla over the years,” Creelman said.
Part of those proceeds are from the members-only Friends’ Crystal Coast Holiday Flotilla Viewing Party. This year’s event sold out almost as soon as tickets were available. However, sponsorships of various levels for the Viewing Party are still available.
There are also openings for those who want to participate in the flotilla itself. Captains may register their vessel for the flotilla until noon on Dec. 3, the day of the flotilla. Sailboats, motorboats, skiffs, yachts, oars, kayaks and commercial vessels are all welcome. There is no entry fee.
The parade route starts in Morehead City and ends at the Beaufort Hotel/34° North Restaurant where judges will select their favorites. Prizes will be distributed the week after the flotilla. Free docking (there is a charge for power) will be available at the Beaufort Town Docks, subject to availability. For those boaters and spectators who want to spend some additional time downtown, festivities also extend on shore: Santa Claus will be welcoming children at sites in Jaycee Park in Morehead City and in Santa’s hut, which is set up next to the Dock House Restaurant on Front Street in Beaufort.
“The flotilla truly has become an annual tradition on the Crystal Coast,” Creelman said.
The Friends group will also host its annual Membership Meeting and Holiday Open House the following day. The Friends of the Maritime Museum Annual Membership Meeting starts at 2 p.m. in the museum auditorium. It is followed by a holiday reception from 3 to 4 p.m., where refreshments will be served.
The winner of the 2022 raffle boat will also be drawn during the reception, which is free and open to thepublic.
“Everyone is welcome to join the Friends of the Museum,” Creelman said, “and the Open House is a great way to learn more about us.”
For more information on the events, or to register a vessel or sponsor the viewing party, call (252) 728-2762 or email Brent Creelman. For more information on the Friends organization, visit Maritime Friends. For more information on the museum, visit NC Maritime Museum Beaufort.
By Cynthia A. Brown