October 5, 2010

Odd Mob Bikes to the Light for Great Fun and a Great Cause


On Saturday morning, Oct. 2, a strange assembly descended on the grounds of Cape Hatteras Secondary School. It included a gang of cavemen, ferry worker zombies, a cheerleader with a goatee, several vegetables, a whoopee cushion and at least one member of the Village People.

This odd mob, quite visible from N.C. Highway 12, caused drivers to slow down, stick their heads out windows and wonder what on earth was going on. Later, more unsuspecting drivers would be confounded as the entire mob took to the streets on bicycles because clearly, the only thing better than a random collection of over 150 people in costumes  is a random collection of 150 people in costumes on bicycles.

So what was going on? Had a large percentage of the local population gone mad?

The answer is yes, most definitely, but for a really good cause.

This past Saturday marked the second annual “Bike to the Light,” and the crazy procession on wheels was actually a group of local Kiwanis volunteers and supporters raising money for the Kiwanis Scholarship fund while having a good, strange time.

The inventors were Joe Thompson of Spa Koru, and Drew Scalia of Hatteras Island Boardsports, (or on this particular day, the “Two Peas in a Pod,” clearly evident by their green coveralls and pea-shaped bicycle-built-for-two), who leant the idea to Bob Keiper, then-president of the Hatteras Island Kiwanis.

“We were looking for a fund raiser that included the community and was an all-around good time for kids and adults -- the whole family,” says Keiper.

What they got was the annual “Bike to the Light.” Based more on costume originality than actual cycling ability, the contest, which requires a $5 registration fee that goes directly to the scholarship fund, encourages everyone to dress up in the oddest and most original costumes they can come up with. Then everyone hops on board a bicycle, and cycles down to the lighthouse and back, where an awards ceremony follows. 

“I thought it would be fun to have a fund raiser that was zany,” says Thompson, (a.k.a. pea 1) “We needed more zany events around here.”

“And I wanted to invent a contest I could win,” added Scalia, (a.k.a. pea 2).

And if the 150 costumed people who gathered on the school lawn is any indication, Bike to the Light is indeed a hit.

Clusters of individuals, volunteers and groups chatted and enjoyed fresh coffee and breakfast from Pam Rack at Island Perks while waiting for the bicycle ride to start. Harried volunteers manned the registration table, giving a number, an event T-Shirt and an Outer Beaches tote bag to each participant.

One group, the “Pamlico Pirates,” came all the way from the Eastern Shore to participate in the event after noticing it from the sidelines last year. This time, they took a more active role in Bike to the Light, and the entire group dressed up in pirate costumes, even the canine members of the family.

A half dozen volunteers from Outer Beaches Realty also attended, dressed up as cavemen, with 3-year-old Gracie Fuller, the youngest Outer Beaches volunteer, riding along in a dinosaur costume.

Once everyone had fueled up on coffee, and bicycles had arrived for anyone who needed one courtesy of Ocean Atlantic Rentals, the ride began with a quick circle around the three judges, Dottie Reed, Heidi Blackwood and Candy Quidley, who thoroughly inspected every costume.

“We have some set categories, like zaniest and best team costume, but we’re also ad libbing a little bit,” explained Reed.

Then the procession began along Buxton Back Road, and traffic was stopped momentarily so the riders could scoot across N.C. Highway 12, much to the confusion of everyone on the road.

The ride took about an hour to the lighthouse and back, and when they returned, they had hot pizza from Toppers and fresh sandwiches and salads from the Frisco Sandwich Company waiting for them. Then everyone took a break on the lawn, while the winners were announced to loud cheers.

The prizes were great ones, ranging from hang gliding lessons at Kitty Hawk Kites, to Hatteras Island Boardsports gift certificates, to Spa Koru memberships, and were very well received by all the winners, particularly Scalia (pea 2), who celebrated his co-victory for zany team by jumping up and down and throwing water into the crowd, in true champion style.

Several new categories were even established in honor of some of the more creative costumes, including the Silliest Costume which went to the goateed cheerleader, Tracy Morris. “When we saw Tracy, we had to invent the Silliest Costume award,” said Reed. Morris accepted his award with pom-poms blazing.

At the end of the day, despite any sore calves or slightly uncomfortable costumes, everyone involved agreed that the fund-raising event was a tremendous success and a good laugh, with a bigger following and better weather than the previous year.

 “I think this was a great turnout, and definitely a success,” said Richard Kenner, a Kiwanis volunteer, “and best of all, you can tell the kids really enjoyed it.”

Because of the over 150 participants, hundreds of dollars raised for the scholarship fund and the community-wide support, (not to mention the basic thrill of riding down the road in a whacky costume for no apparent reason), the Bike to the Light shows no signs of slowing down for next year.

So to all you unsuspecting Saturday drivers along Highway 12, consider yourself forewarned.


Winners List:

Creative: Diana DeBrody – Witch getup
Liz Stokes – Tropical getup
Silliest Costume: Tracy Morris – Cheerleader
Zany:  Zahfar Christ – pixie wings, caveman gear, and a whole lot of other silly costume pieces mashed together
Tacky: Robin Ames – pink flamingo everything
Zany Team: Joe Thompson and Drew Scalia – Two peas in a pod
Nevaeh Willis – A very gory costume

Costume that made us smile:

Jazzera Christ – Pixie
Mandy and Gracie Fuller – Cavewoman and dinosaur
Team Prize: Deborah Colaizzi and Marcia Paccioretti – the Pamlico Pirates
More experienced but Young at Heart award: Walt Fulcher and Lehman Williams
A number of non-Kiwanis volunteers were also honored during the awards for their contribution to the event.

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