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Welcome to the holidays on the islands, and let us hear from you

Welcome to the 2014 Christmas on the Islands Page, which features holiday shopping tips and information and news about events during November and December.

We welcome hearing from our readers about favorite places to shop or dine during the holidays, stories of your holidays on Hatteras or Ocracoke, and photos of the holiday lights and activities. We’ll be happy to publish your holiday recipes also.

You can send stories, events, photos, recipes or other information to

We hope our readers will also shop locally for their holiday gifts and other needs.  Our small, locally owned businesses need our support all year-round.

Most of the advertisers in our holiday shopping guide have websites, so you can shop even if you won’t be here.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a great time to be on the islands. Have a terrific holiday season and enjoy.

(For information about advertising on our shopping guide, e-mail


Old Christmas celebration is Jan. 3 in Rodanthe....WITH SLIDE SHOW

The tradition of Old Christmas will be celebrated Saturday, Jan. 3 at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building. The celebration continues a 150-year old tradition, reports organizer Connie Page.

The gathering of families and community members will kick off with an early afternoon oyster shoot, starting around 1 p.m. David Gentry will be in charge of the shoot. Chicken and pastry dinners, prepared by community members, will be available late afternoon, around 5 p.m.     And Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive at 7:30 p.m.

Elvin Hooper’s band, Chicamacomico, will start playing at 8 p.m. An oyster roast outside is usually ready about the time Santa Claus arrives. A cover charge, which covers the chicken dinner, band and oyster roast, will be set once oysters are purchased.

According to the Outer Banks History Center, the Old Christmas celebration dates to the mid-18th century. Old Christmas, celebrated on Jan. 5, stems from the British Empire’s change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Because the old calendar was inaccurate, 11 days had to be omitted when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. This changed Christmas Day from Jan. 5 to Dec. 25th.

Also according to the History Center, a highlight at Old Christmas is the arrival of Old Buck – a legendary animal with the head of a bull and a blanket that covers the bodies of the men who make him come to life. It is said that during a fierce storm, a ship wrecked off the Hatteras Island coast while carrying a load of cattle, all of which perished except a particularly strong and handsome bull that swam ashore at Rodanthe.

This bull sired many calves and was held in great esteem by the villagers. He was paraded through the town on Old Christmas, often with children riding on his back.


Today Old Christmas is still celebrated in Rodanthe, but as a community event rather than a religious observance.

Ocracoke's annual oyster roast is an all-you-can-eat treat

Christmastime heralds a much anticipated event on Ocracoke—the annual Oyster Roast at the Ocracoke Seafood Company from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27.

This year is the ninth year of this fundraiser for the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association (OWWA) which operates “the fish house,” as it is called, that supports the activities of about 30 commercial fishermen.  
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Ocracoke is aglow with Christmas lights....WITH SLIDE SHOW

From the lighthouse on one side of the village to the houses in Oyster Creek on the other side, Ocracoke is lit up and ready for Christmas. Take a tour of the simple, elegant, and whimsical holiday decorations with these photos, provided by Connie Leinbach at the Ocracoke Observer,

Click Here To View Slide Show

Hatteras Village Christmas Parade: An All-American Treat...WITH SLIDE SHOW

If Norman Rockwell were alive and looking for an all-American Christmas parade to paint, he would come to Hatteras village.

The parade route is perhaps a mile long, not long at all by the standards of most parades, but with families gathering along the entire route, children in Christmas regalia, neighbors greeting neighbors and falling into conversation, the feeling of community is tangible.
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CHEC's annual Christmas Toy Drive is now underway

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative is again making Christmas brighter for Hatteras Island children with its annual Christmas Toy Drive. CHEC coordinates its Toy Drive with the Hatteras Island Angel Tree Program, which is sponsored by island churches.

CHEC's office in Buxton is the drop-off point for new and unwrapped gifts for children ages 2 to 16 years. Monetary donations by cash or checks are also accepted. Make your check payable to CHEC with Angel Tree in the memo line.

The deadline for toys and donations is Tuesday, Dec. 16. For more information, call Laura Ertle at 252-995-7083.

Cancer Foundations plans New Year's Eve dance
The Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation will sponsor a New Year's Eve dance on Wednesday, Dec. 31, from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Hatteras Civic Center.

The evening is BYOB, but mixers will be provided and hors d'oeuvres will be served.  Music will be by Ray Gun Ruby. There will be a champagne toast at midnight.

The cost is $20 a person or $35 a couple and can be purchased at the door.  You must be 21 to attend.

Also at the dance, HICF will be drawing the winner of a one-week vacation at on oceanfront rental house in Frisco.  It's not too late to enter the raffle.  Details are on the website,

Your help is needed to fill Sparkle Bags for island children

Hands of Love, the Hatteras Island non-profit organization, needs the help of residents and visitors to fill Sparkle Bags for families in need this Christmas.

The group will fill the bags with goodies for children from newborns up to age 15.  Hands of Love founder Kim Martin says the group needs not only toys but such items as hats, gloves, socks, candy canes, hygiene products, nail polish, bibs and baby wipes, flashlights, and fruit snacks such as oranges and apples.

This year, Hands of Love has partnered with Operation Home Front for the Sparkle Bag project.  For those who shop at the Dollar Tree in Avon, there will be a box in the store for collecting the items.  Items can also be dropped off at Beach Pharmacy in Avon or in Hatteras.

In the past, Martin says that Hands of Love has helped island families from the tri-villages to Ocracoke with Sparkle Bags at Christmas, food baskets at Thanksgiving, Easter baskets, and back packs filled with supplies for back-to-school.

Much of the money used in these projects has been raised through participation in and sponsors of the group's pageant for island girls.

In past years, Hands of Love has provided from 150 to 300 Sparkle Bags, depending on need. The need for donations is greater this year because Martin was unable to have the pageant this year because of health issues.

Anyone who would like to donate or volunteer to help fill the baskets, can call Martin at 252-996-0919.  You can also call her to ask questions.  Monetary donations can be made on the website,, where there is also more information on the organization.

If you know a family that needs some Sparkle Bags to make Christmas merrier, please let Martin know by phone or an e-mail to

Letters to Santa return to Ocracoke after 50 years

What becomes of all those letters American children write to Santa Claus each December before Christmas? Earlier this year, several Ocracoke residents found out!

Three Ocracoke families found the letters they -- or their parents -- wrote to Santa 50 years ago for sale on eBay recently.  The letters were purchased and are now back on Ocracoke, along with memories of a Christmas long ago.  
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Christmas events planned for Ocracoke

Ocracoke's Christmas events next month will include the traditional tree lighting and wassail party, along with the newer holiday house tour. Also on the schedule are a community Christmas concert, and the celebration will continue after Christmas with an oyster roast.

Here are the details.

Ocracoke Seafood Company Oyster Roast and Shrimp Boil. Saturday, Dec. 27, from 2 until 5 p.m. on the harbor.  Also featured is fish stew.  Price will depend on market cost of seafood.

A guide to dining out during the holidays

The weather is much cooler, the days are getting shorter, and there are many fewer visitors on Hatteras and Ocracoke. Many of the islands’ restaurants have already closed and others will be closing shortly.

However, visiting during the holidays is much more popular with tourists than it once was. Spending Thanksgiving or Christmas by the ocean when there is less hustle and bustle is appealing to many. So if you are planning a visit to the islands this holiday season, we have some information for you if you don’t want to be fixing all of your meals yourself while you are on vacation.  
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Thanksgiving on the Islands: An ode to meat and football

On Nov. 27, millions of Americans will put on their stretch pants, pull out the remote control, and settle into eight hours of couch time and football until it’s time to dive headfirst into a pile of heart-attack inducing fare that only a glutton can appreciate.

In other words, it’s Thanksgiving, and it’s the greatest holiday in the universe.

And as much as I adore our little mountain chateau -- which is my new fancy word for trailer -- I truly miss Thanksgiving on the beach, where it’s often warm enough to barbecue and every family’s traditional meal has some sort of oyster involved.  
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Surf or Sound Realty collecting food pantry donations

The island’s food pantries continue to need our support during the colder months, and as they have done in years past, both of Surf or Sound Realty’s offices will serve as a drop off for Hatteras Island’s Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Donations from staff, neighbors and island friends will all make a difference in feeding those in our community who might otherwise go hungry during the slower winter months. Residents in the community and visitors are encouraged to drop-off donated items for the upcoming Thanksgiving Food Drive at either our Salvo or Avon office locations. Non-perishable food and pet food are welcome and appreciated.

Donations made to the Salvo office on the corner of Highway 12 and Rampart Street will go to Lifeboat Community Church Food Bank and those made to Surf or Sound’s Avon office across from the Avon Fishing Pier will go to the Hatteras Island Food Pantry.

Vacation Specialist Marcia Laricos explains: “We thank all of our vacationing guests for not only visiting our island, but taking time to be a part of the community by helping to sustain those who live here.”

Monetary donations for the Hatteras Island Food Pantry can be made payable by check to United Methodist Men and mailed to Hatteras Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1591, Buxton, NC 27920. Monetary donations for Lifeboat Community Church can be dropped off at 27563 Highway 12 in Salvo, or by mailing checks to Lifeboat Community Church, P.O. Box 84, Salvo, NC 27972.

Surf or Sound Realty, a premier vacation rental and property sales company since 1978, manages vacation homes in all seven villages of Hatteras Island. For vacation information, please visit or call 1-800-237-1138.

Oyster Dressing: A coastal tradition for the holidays

Hardly a cook on the North Carolina coast gets through the Thanksgiving or Christmas season without thinking about oyster stuffing.

The name itself evokes visions of plump oysters hidden in a fluffy blend of herbs, breadcrumbs and rich stock, a dish so luxurious it begs a silver dish rather than a place inside the holiday turkey.   Read More

Hatteras Island Food Drive is now underway

The 21st island-wide Food Drive to benefit the Hatteras Island Food Pantry is now underway.

Without your support, this non-denominational, non-profit community outreach will be unable to meet the needs of island residents and get through the winter, the period of greatest demand. 

Whether you give food or money, 100 percent of all donations goes to assist Hatteras islanders.

If you live off island or do not have time to shop, please make a monetary donation. It's tax deductible. Checks should be written to United Methodist Men and mailed to Hatteras Island Food Pantry, PO Box 1591, Buxton, NC 27920. Call or message me if you have questions or would like more info. Thank you!

Here are this year's convenient drop-off locations to date:

  • Hatteras Realty in Hatteras Village and Avon (Daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
  • Our Lady of the Seas Catholic Parish Hall in Buxton (24-hour drop-off box on porch) Frisco Shopping Center in Frisco (Daily 6 a.m.-9 p.m.)
  • Outer Beaches Realty in Hatteras Village, Avon, and Waves (Daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
  • Surf-or-Sound Realty in Avon (Daily 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.)
  • Midgett Realty in Hatteras, Avon, and Rodanthe (Daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)

If you need more information or have questions, please e-mail food drive organizer, Linda Browning, at