Swashbucklers, Soldiers and a Shining Beacon

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bald Head Island ’s Colorful History Enriches
Unique Fourth of July Celebration

 

 

BALD HEAD ISLAND, N.C. What do the Declaration of Independence and the Old BaldyLighthouse have in common?  Besides being important historical landmarks, both were commissioned by Thomas Jefferson.  The story of Bald Head Island, N.C. – home to Old Baldy – is filled with many historical figures, from pirates to presidents to lifesavers alike.

Bald Head Island is a resort community accessible only by boat where no cars are allowed.  Located two nautical miles off the southeastern coast of North Carolina, this Island’s shores are no longer a refuge for pirates.  However, the natural beauty of BaldHeadIsland ensures that this is still a place to seek and find adventure.  Of the Island’s 12,000 acres, 10,000 acres of beach, salt marsh and maritime forest are protected and will remain undeveloped.

The Island’s annual Fourth of July celebration encompasses all the excitement of its memorable history.  A carnival on The Common, picnics and a fireworks cruise aboard the ferry make for a festive day. 

The highlight of the celebration is the much-anticipated Annual Golf Cart Parade.  Residents and visitors whimsically decorate golf carts – the preferred mode of on-island transport – and compete for a coveted slot among the best in show.  Carts are transformed into elaborate floats, complete with papier-mâché, flashing lights, and wide array of accoutrements.  The parade travels down the island’s pathways, many of which are named after famous pirates.  Decorating themes recall BaldHeadIsland’s swashbuckling past, as well.   An Environmental category was added in 2006 with the award going to the best environmentally themed golf cart. 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, when pirates ruled North Carolina’s coastal waters with greed and terror, BaldHeadIsland was a favorite hideaway for these notorious bandits.  The most famous pirate to roam the waters was Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.  In a nod to this colorful past, today’s visitors are transported to the island aboard ferries appropriately named “Revenge” and “Adventure” – both ships from Blackbeard’s infamous fleet.

Bald Head Island’s historic lighthouse, known affectionately as Old Baldy, was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800’s and is the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina.  It’s not the only lighthouse in Bald Head history, though.  Another beacon once shone from the island’s eastern tip:  the Cape Fear Light was erected in 1903, following the creation a U.S. life saving station on BaldHeadIsland.  Cape Fear Station was a bustling community of surf men until the service was deactivated in 1958.  Today, BaldHeadIsland’s preeminent residential community, Cape Fear Station, stands as a tribute to these heroes.  Its entrance is marked by the ruins of the Cape Fear Light.

Bald Head Island is accessible by ferry or private boat from Indigo Plantation and Marina in Southport, NC.  A historic tour, which hits the highlights of the island’s history, is available. The island features more than 800 homes, and more than 200 year-round residences.  To experience the exceptional nature of BaldHeadIsland, visit www.baldheadisland.com.

 

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